The number of schools involved in UNSW's groundbreaking ASPIRE program has more than doubled this year, with students from 11 local high schools taking part in the social inclusion initiative that promotes the importance of tertiary education.

Close to 1000 students from low socio-economic backgrounds are now part of the program, following a significant funding boost from the Federal Government and a grant from the Citi Foundation.

Around 200 Year 9 students from schools in Sydney's west, inner west and south west attended Uni for a Day events at UNSW last week, including a tour of a residential college, taking part in a legal case in a moot court and a visit to the Io Myers Studio.

"We try to imitate the experience of being a university student, including moving students away from their cohort which encourages them to function outside their comfort zone," says ASPIRE Project Manager, Fiona Nicholson.

Twenty-four UNSW undergraduate students, trained as ASPIRE ambassadors, committed two days of their holidays to supervise the on-campus events. The volunteers also supervise in-school workshops on higher education, study skills, time management and budgeting throughout the year.

"Uni for a Day has been a huge success, it's wonderful to see the transition in the students' confidence from the beginning to the end of the day," says Nicholson.

Outcomes from the first two years of the ASPIRE program have been positive with 98 percent of students involved reporting increased awareness of higher education and more than 85 percent of participants reporting a positive shift in attitude towards attending university.

The following schools are taking part in the ASPIRE program this year: Dulwich High School of Visual Arts and Design, JJ Cahill Memorial High School, Matraville Sports High School, Marrickville High School, Canterbury Boys High School, Auburn Girls High School, Bass High School, Granville Boys High School, Holroyd High School, Wiley Park Girls High School, and Bankstown Girls High School.

Media contact: Fran Strachan | 9385 8732 |