Why ASPIRE matters | Aspire

Australia is a nation rich in resources. Our most precious ones are found in classrooms across the country. But not all classrooms are equal. 

Many academically capable students experience educational disadvantage. They face a difficult journey to realise their full potential. Without access to the right information, support and opportunity, talented students are missing out on pursuing higher education.

In Australia, a university degree benefits society more than the individual. 

We gain:

  • a better educated workforce
  • more economic growth
  • more civic engagement
  • lower crime rates

For the individual, the benefits include:

  • higher earnings over lifespan
  • lower unemployment levels
  • better health and longer lifespan

Fast Facts

Nearly 18% of Australian children live below the poverty line At 15, students from disadvantaged backgrounds are up to 2.5 years behind their peers in maths, science, reading and computer skills Regional and remote students are up to 1.5 years behind their metro peers Indigenous students are up to 3.5 yrs behind their non-Indigenous peers.

The latest available figures show the percentage of domestic undergraduate students from low socio-economic status (SES) backgrounds who commenced university in 2017:

  • Sector

  • GO8

  • UNSW

Students from low SES backgrounds remain significantly underrepresented at universities. Only 15.19% of all school leavers who started university in 2017 came from low SES backgrounds. This is not because they lack the capability to succeed in higher education. When students from low SES backgrounds do go to a GO8 university they are more likely to stay and more likely to pass their subjects when compared with the sector as a whole.

Targeted, long-term programs like ASPIRE are needed to shift longstanding perceptions that, compared with high SES students, students from low SES backgrounds can’t, won’t or shouldn’t go to university. 

Change starts with the students themselves. ASPIRE helps build their confidence to believe they have the talent and mindset to achieve. We help develop their skills and knowledge about university education. We work with their school, community and parents and carers to build their social capital. Through ASPIRE, students are able to make an informed choice about the future they want to have.

Latest equity data compiled by the Federal Department of Education and Training https://www.education.gov.au/selected-higher-education-statistics-2017-student-data
Davidson P, Saunders P, Bradbury B and Wong M (2018) Poverty in Australia, 2018. ACOSS/UNSW Poverty and Inequality Partnership Report No. 2, Sydney: ACOSS.
Thomson S, De Bortoli L, Underwood C (2017) PISA 2015: Reporting Australia’s results. Camberwell: Australian Council for Educational Research.
The Group of Eight (Go8) comprises Australia’s leading research-intensive universities.