UNSW has celebrated the success of its mature-age university entry scheme, the University Preparation Program (UPP), with more than 4,000 students completing the program over its 25 years, and many continuing to complete Masters and PhDs.  

Since it began in 1989, the UPP has helped students with no HSC or other formal qualifications begin university studies. Former UPP students were invited to share their experiences at an event on campus to celebrate the start of the program’s 25th year.   

Students enrolled in the UPP undertake one of three streams depending on their area of interest and also complete a University Orientation and Study Skills component to help build their academic skills. After successful completion, students can apply for an undergraduate degree at UNSW or another institution that accepts UPP results. In 2012, 100% of students who completed the program and applied for university received an offer to study.

Speaking at the event, Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Students) Professor Wai-Fong Chua said that UNSW was keen to attract students to develop their potential “irrespective of where they might have come from or what opportunities they may have had”.

“The program gives you a sense of UNSW’s commitment to providing alternative pathways to talented students. The UPP changes people’s lives, and this is evident when I speak to former students who tell me of their achievements,” she said.    

For the first time, students can apply for the UPP through the Universities Admissions Centre, “which means we can now dedicate more resources to the teaching side of the program, which we are continuing to improve”, Professor Chua said.

UPP Learning Advisor Dr Dominic Fitzsimmons congratulated the students on taking the first step towards changing the direction of their lives and enrolling in the UPP.

“We set out the framework but it’s you who participate. For many students, the UPP is the next beginning point of the next part of their life,” he said.

The audience also heard from five former UPP students, who spoke in a video presentation of how proud they were to have completed the program and how it had assisted them in pursuing successful careers in journalism and scientific research, as well as allowing them to undertake MBAs and PhDs.

“The UPP gave me quite a bit of confidence. My high school marks weren’t the greatest, but the UPP made me realise I could do well at university. It gave me the skills to do really well in my working career, not just my studies,” said Andrew Knight, who completed the UPP in 1994 and is now studying for an MBA in the Australian School of Business.

“When I started, I didn’t even know what went on at a university, let alone think that I would tutor at one or do a PhD. Doing the UPP changed my life,” said Tracey-Lee Downey, who completed the program in 1996.

UNSW has offered places to more than 120 students for the 2014 UPP intake and applications are still open through the Universities Admissions Centre. 

Media contact: Cassie Chorn, UNSW Media Office, 9385 8107, c.chorn@unsw.edu.au