“I give you this with a 100% guarantee; every one of you can achieve more than you think you can,” NSW Premier Mike Baird has told Year 10 students taking part in UNSW’s ASPIRE program.
The Premier attended a design workshop at the Michael Crouch Innovation Centre, one of a week-long series of events offered by UNSW ASPIRE, the University’s outreach program aimed at encouraging school students from low socio-economic backgrounds to consider a university education.
“For some of you this will be the first time you’ve visited a university campus, and you may go on to be the first person in your family to attend university and firsts are really important,” the Premier said.
“Getting your HSC, going to university, this could be the day you decide to do that, whatever your dreams are you can do it,” the Premier said.
“At your age there was no way I would have thought I’d end up studying economics or getting into politics and it all comes back to having had the opportunity to go to university.”
A university education should not be dependent on where you were born, where you live, how much money your family has or where you went to school.
Students from Canterbury Boys, Strathfield South, Birrong Boys, Auburn Girls, Granville South Creative and Performing Arts, and Wiley Park Girls high schools attended Design Day, an interactive workshop on design development led by UNSW Arts & Design senior lecturer Selena Griffith.
The ASPIRE program raises student aspirations and assists with academic attainment through in-school workshops, on-campus “taster days” and residential programs for regional students.
To date the program has assisted over 35,000 students, parents and teachers from NSW primary and secondary schools.
“ASPIRE works from the premise that university education should not be dependent on where you were born, where you live, how much money your family has or where you went to school,” said UNSW ASPIRE Director, Dr Ann Jardine.
Dr Jardine said the Premier’s visit was a “wonderful acknowledgement” of the program’s work.
“The Premier approached us to come and visit and we think that’s pretty marvellous. The team and the students are on a high – we did ourselves proud today.
"We are also very proud that our program strongly supports one of the University’s 2025 strategic themes – a just society. ASPIRE has a lot to offer the University in its work with disadvantaged communities.”
Luca Angrisano from Canterbury Boys High School was impressed with the attention the Premier gave to his group’s project, which focused on designing an app to encourage school work and social life balance.
“He was really interested, and a genuinely nice guy,” said Angrisano. “I know politicians kind of have to be nice, but this was genuine.”
Sooaad Dahoud from Wiley Park Girls High School said she was inspired by the Premier’s talk.
“He made me realise there are different ways you can get into a career, he studied economics but became a politician. I thought he was just going to speak about politics, but he inspired me,” she said.
Since 2007, enrolments to university from ASPIRE schools have increased, with more than 360 students starting university in 2015.
Sixty ASPIRE students received offers to UNSW in 2015 compared with 20 in 2010. Overall there has been a 48% increase in university offers to students from ASPIRE schools since 2010.