The Australian Centre for Student Equity and Success acknowledges Indigenous peoples as the Traditional Owners of the lands on which our campuses are situated. With a history spanning 60,000 years as the original educators, Indigenous peoples hold a unique place in Australia. We recognise the importance of their knowledge and culture, and reflect the principles of participation, equity, and cultural respect in our work. We pay our respects to Elders past, present, and future, and consider it an honour to learn from our Indigenous colleagues, partners, and friends.

You are reading: Widening Tertiary Participation Queensland: Student Ambassador Investigations

Written by Cathy Cupitt and Diane Costello (NCSEHE), and Geoffrey Mitchell (Queensland Government Department of Education and Training)

1.1 Introduction
The use of enrolled university students as student role models, mentors or ‘ambassadors’ to work with school students has been a common feature of outreach and engagement work undertaken by Queensland’s Widening Tertiary Participation Consortium. This report brings together investigations undertaken with such students (Ambassadors) across five Consortium institutions, focussing on their background, motivation and also how they perceive participation in widening participation programs has impacted on themselves and on the school students they work with.

1.2 Terminology
In this report, the term ‘Student Ambassador’ is used as a convenient term, capturing the different types of student role-models, mentors and ambassadors used in the various Queensland widening participation programs. Student Ambassador is the term used by four of the five universities contributing to this report, while the fifth (Griffith) uses the term ‘Mentor’ for students performing similar roles in their Launch into Life at Logan (LILAL) program. The University of the Sunshine Coast (USC) has also included some responses from their Australian Indigenous Mentoring Experience (AIME) mentors. The term ‘Student Ambassador’ has been commonly used in the UK for over a decade to refer to enrolled university students undertaking various roles related to delivery of widening participation activities including summer schools, on-campus visits, school workshops and also in mentoringroles. The term continues to be used extensively, both in the UK and Australia, to refer to enrolled students who are engaged to undertake widening participation and/or specific recruitment and marketing activity. For this report, the term Student Ambassador is used to refer to students who are involved in promoting participation in tertiary study generally rather than promoting the specific attributes of participation at their university.

1.3 Background
The Queensland Widening Tertiary Participation Consortium, consisting of Queensland’s eight public universities, has collaborated since 2009 in the development and implementation of a suite of activities aimed at improving the tertiary participation of low SES and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Queenslanders. Consortium partners are:

  • CQUniversity Australia (CQU)
  • Griffith University (GU)
  • James Cook University (JCU)
  • Queensland University of Technology (QUT)
  • The University of Queensland (UQ)
  • University of Southern Queensland (USQ)
  • University of the Sunshine Coast (USC), and
  • the multi-state Australian Catholic University (ACU).

In 2011, the Consortium was successful in its application for competitive grant funding from the Australian Government’s Higher Education Participation and Partnerships Programme (HEPPP), which enabled significant scaling-up of coordinated school outreach and Indigenous engagement activities across Queensland. A Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) signed by each Consortium university and the Queensland Department of Education and Training sets out an agreed philosophy and approach while leaving universities considerable scope to design activities best suited to their context and the needs of their local communities. Activities undertaken by each university were based on available evidence of good practice, considerable practitioner expertise, and what universities were best placed to deliver.

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Cupitt, C., Costello, D. & Mitchell, G. (2015). “Widening Tertiary Participation Queensland: Student Ambassador Investigations”. National Centre for Student Equity in Higher Education (NCSEHE), Perth: Curtin University.
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