Community support eases transition

More Māori and Pasifika students from low-decile schools in the Wellington region are studying at Victoria as a result of a successful, decade-long outreach programme.

High school students registered with the Outreach Programme attend weekly sessions with one of two full-time coordinators, during which they focus on their study goals, exam preparation and understanding NCEA and University Entrance (UE) requirements. There are evening sessions for parents, and holiday activities, including an end-of-year camp, to motivate students to succeed in school and complete the programme.

Susan Harper, Manager of Recruitment, Admission and Orientation within the Student Academic Services Group, says the programme has proved to be an important bridge to tertiary study.

“Students show remarkable commitment because the classes are mainly held in their own time, either before or after school, or at lunchtime. But the payback is the support they receive to gain qualifications and make the transition from school to university.

“Over time, the programme has made going to university a normal choice for Māori and Pacific students at low-decile schools.”

Once at Victoria, the students are connected to Māori and Pasifika student support and pastoral care networks on campus. Some students receive scholarships to help with university costs.

A 2012 review of the programme indicated that of all Māori and Pasifika school leavers in Wellington to enrol at Victoria, 38 percent were programme participants compared to just 13 percent in 2009.

That growth mirrors expansion in the number of schools taking part, which has risen to 14 colleges in the Hutt Valley, Porirua and Wellington.

The review concluded that the programme is achieving benefits for students, schools and the University and for this reason is being extended to all students in low-decile schools in the Wellington region from this year.