Bridges to Higher Education Bridges to Higher Education

Brant Gilliver

Student at TAFE Western Sydney Institute 

My name is Brant. I left school after year 10 and went to TAFE, then worked as a motor mechanic. Eventually I felt like a change, like I needed a new direction in life. I started a Certificate in Community Service Work and then extended it to a Diploma.

At TAFE I became involved in the Bridges Diploma Plus program, through which I received information about university and attended Master classes at TAFE and the University of Western Sydney Parramatta campus. I also went on a campus tour. Through the program I learned about academic writing and study skills. In a way I became part of the university community; I was given a student card so that I could access the library and receive emails from the university.

Initially I was attracted to the program because it was free and convenient to access so there was nothing to lose. Since starting however the program has made a huge difference to my life. Before getting involved in the program I was just going to get a job after TAFE, I probably would not have gone to university without it. Diploma Plus made going to University just that much easier. My TAFE teachers, too, were really encouraging me to take these opportunities and go to university. It made my mind up anyway!

I am now less fearful and insecure about going to university. I still have concerns around the transition to a different learning environment and different assessments, but since I was at the Open Day I know that there is support available for me to access.

In the future, if I am successful in getting my degree, I am hoping to work in local government, help make good social policy and make a difference for my community.

Anne Maley - Head Teacher Community Services TAFE South Western Sydney Institute

TAFE Bankstown9_498x310 

Generally the TAFE students that I see don't consider university as a pathway, even though they have the potential to and would make very good students at a higher level, because they have so much life experience to bring to their studies and to their professions. Unfortunately they often don't realise this, so it is really useful for our students to go to a university and to see what it is like physically, to experience a lecture or a tutorial.

The Diploma Plus program was designed to do exactly that. University lecturers come in and teach at TAFE and then our students go to the campus for a lecture which is integrated into a year-long course jointly administered by UWS, Western Sydney Institute of TAFE and South Western Institute of TAFE.

For the participating students this broke down that barrier of not understanding what a university looks like. I think the students felt that there wasn't a physical barrier between them and the university anymore. It challenged the perception that lecturers may be very distant. I think the students realised that they were capable and that a university degree wasn't out of their reach.

Many students who hadn't considered university before were inspired by it. From our first cohort one third are starting university now, significantly more than normally would, and this has been a great outcome.

Diploma Plus participants have also become role models for other TAFE students who have seen their peers thrive from this opportunity. I have had students from other courses come and ask me how they can go to university as a result. The program has been such a success and we have decided that we would like to expand it.

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