During the week of 2-6 July, Indigenous high school students from across Australia took part in UNSW’s Nura Gili Winter School program.  Nura Gili provides pathways to learning opportunities for Indigenous students and works towards providing access to all the programs it offers. UNSW is committed to boosting the numbers of Indigenous students from 279 to 500 by 2015.

One of Nura Gili’s major university preparations programs is Winter School, traditionally held in the first week of July.It is one of the largest Indigenous university preparation programs in Australia, attracting 150 students from across the country. Winter School offers high school students in years 10 to 12 a week long placement in a faculty of their choice. It provides an opportunity to teach students about university life, the programs on offer, what they entail and how they are taught as well as the careers they can lead to. Information is also provided on alternate pathways for enrolment and students are given a point of contact to turn to for support when applying and studying at university.

This year, UNSW Built Environment (BE) hosted eight students from across New South Wales and Queensland. The students were introduced to the faculty through a range of thought provoking exercises that challenged their preconceptions of the Built Environment and taught them about viewing objects, buildings and cities from a design perspective. They visited a number of significant sites around the city, including Cockatoo Island, Tranby, Common Ground, Trio Apartments and Prince Albert Park. They were taught how to analyse and view a site from a design perspective and were encouraged to think conceptually as well as literally.

The students had the opportunity to liaise with current industry professionals and this year, as for the past seven years, we were fortunate enough to have the help of Sydney Landscape Architect, Patrick Franklyn. Patrick offered invaluable knowledge from both a technical and historical aspect.  ASPECT Studios, a design firm specialising in Landscape Architecture and working on some of the leading projects in Australia, opened its doors to give students an idea of what a working studio looked like.

On the final day current BE students took time out to spend with the students, offering a range of workshops and activities from site analysis, drawing, virtual model making to physical model making and building structures (out of giant foam gym mats). They provided a fresh perspective and offered personal accounts of their studies and social life at university.    

Liz Roberts, Built Environment’s Student Recruitment Officer said “I think everyone had a really great three days and learnt so much – including myself! I hope to see all these guys back at UNSW one day studying in our faculty”.

Dean Wright, a year 12 student said of the week long experience, “It was amazing! The whole experience was better than I could imagine. I now can't wait to come to university, especially UNSW.”

A special thank you to Patrick Franklyn, ASPECT STUDIO, Libby and Bob at The Sydney Harbour Federation Trust, Tranby and the staff at Common Ground, Nura Gili Group Supervisors and Built Environment Student Ambassadors for without who, this week would not have been possible.