Dr Ann Jardine | Aspire

PhD (University of Melbourne)
M.App Sci (UWS)
B Ed (Hons)
Cert Ed (Lancaster UK)

As Director of the ASPIRE program, Dr Ann Jardine has overall responsibility for the strategic direction and output of the ASPIRE team.

Ann began her working life as a teacher, having graduated with a Bachelor of Education from the University of Lancaster in the UK. After teaching students at primary and high school age in the UK and Sweden, Ann moved to Australia in 1982. For several years, Ann worked in the corporate world as an adult educator and manager. Deciding to return to study, Ann completed a Masters of Applied Sciince from University of Western Sydney and that led her to work within the university sector.

Ann joined UNSW in 2006 and became Director of Student Equity and Disabilities in 2007. With a desire to see all academically talented students given an opportunity to access a university education, Ann began researching and developing the framework for the ASPIRE program. ASPIRE began in 2007 as a small, pilot project with two schools and 60 Year 10 school students. Driven by a strong sense of social justice, Ann forged the program ahead to extend its reach across metropolitan Sydney and regional New South Wales. Through Ann’s leadership and commitment, ASPIRE is now an established program in 54 schools, focusing on those with limited or no access to the university environment. Over the years, Ann has led competitive bid submissions to secure over seven million dollars in funds to keep the program innovative and ongoing. 

In her spare time, Ann managed to complete a PhD in 2013 with the University of Melbourne. Her thesis, entitled 'Indicators of persistence and their influence on the first year experience of students from low socio-economic backgrounds' reflects Ann’s deep commitment to working to address social inequities and educational disadvantage.

In 2015, Ann became Director of UNSW’s AimHigh unit, overseeing a portfolio of programs and initiatives, including ASPIRE, that support UNSW’s commitment to a just society. AimHigh's goal is to increase the participation in university of students from diverse backgrounds who do not traditionally attend university. 

For relaxation, Ann finds it a tough choice between Nordic Noir crime shows and mining through mountains of data. Her passion is researching the true state of Australia’s educational system, squashing misconceptions that academic ability resides only in a handful of schools on Australia’s eastern seaboard. Ann’s ultimate goal is to see more Australian school students from disadvantaged backgrounds be given a fairer go to access a university education.

Awards and Grants


Australian Federal Government Higher Education Partnerships and Participation Program (HEPPP) funds ($4.6m). This was funding secured through a competitive bid process for the ASPIRE outreach program.


Citibank Foundation Grant for $110,000 to fund a position within the ASPIRE program.


UNSW International Development scholarship ($15,000) to undertake professional study tour of outreach work in the UK under the Aimhigher program.


Australian Federal Government Diversity and Structural Adjustment Funds ($1.1m). This was funding won in a competitive bid process to develop and run the ASPIRE outreach program.

Peer reviewed articles and conference presentations

Jardine, A. (2011, April). Indicators of persistence and their influence on the first year experience of university students from low socio-economic backgrounds. Poster presented at the Widening Participation Conference. ‘Discourses of Inclusion’, Northampton, UK

Jardine, A. & Cooper, J. (2008, June). What do universities mean by the ‘student experience’ Roundtable presentation at 21st International Conference on the First Year Experience. Dublin, Ireland

O' Shea, S. E. & Jardine, A. (2006, June). Bridging the Great Divide: Researching the first year experience of students who are first in the family to attend university. Paper presented at The 4th Annual Conference on Teaching & Learning: The challenge of diversity, National University of Ireland, Galway

Jardine, A. (2005). How student services can influence the factors that relate to student persistence. Journal of the Australian and New Zealand Student Services Association, 26, 20-32.

Jardine, A., & Krause, K.L. (2005, April). Once they arrive how do we keep them? Student Persistence research and Implications for the retention of non traditional students. Paper presented at the Enhancing Student Success Conference, University of Newcastle, Australia

Other invited presentations

Jardine, A. (2012, May). 'Evaluation of the ASPIRE program'. Seminar presentation to the Aimhigher Research Network, Manchester Metropolitan University, UK

Jardine, A. (2012, September). ‘Global education; An equity practitioner’s perspective’. Spotlight session at Assessing for Inclusivity: A Global education at UNSW. UNSW Learning and Teaching Forum

Jardine, A. (2010, May). 'The ASPIRE program'. Seminar presentation to Aimhigher Northern region, Open University, Manchester, UK

Jardine, A. (2010, October). ‘Widening participation within Higher Education: What can we learn from the UK experience?’ Presentation to the Council of Australian Directors of Academic Development

Jardine, A (2009, December). ‘Low socio-economic status: How it is measured and implications for the sector’. Paper presented at the EOPHEA conference ‘Excellence for all. Social inclusion in higher education’, Sydney, Australia