For University of Tasmania alumna and Registered Nurse Georgia Barwick, the University Preparation Program (UPP) was a second chance at education and the key to her dream career.
After dropping out of College, Georgia worked as a pharmacy assistant while raising her daughter Isabella by herself, but she felt directionless and lost.
Wanting to be someone her daughter could look up to, just as she had with her mother growing up, Georgia took her first step towards a new life and reached out to the University of Tasmania.
I decided to study in the UPP after I spoke with someone at the University, and they mentioned that it could help me into a Bachelor of Nursing. I also really wanted to educate myself and stand on my own two feet to support my daughter.
“Before the UPP, I had not taken my education seriously. I wasn't sure what I wanted to do with my life, I had dropped out of college to work full-time, and then I had a baby. I was terrified at the thought of tertiary education.”
“The idea of being able to get a taste of what university life had to offer me with extra support, while also being surrounded by students of all ages, some who were in very similar circumstances as myself, was very appealing,” Ms Barwick said.
In the UPP, Georgia thrived. It gave her the tools to reach her goals and the motivation and confidence that she needed to pursue further study in the Bachelor of Nursing.
"I only have positive things to say about the UPP. My experience from the very first orientation day, right through to my last lecture and tutorial, was what I can only describe as exhilarating."
The staff were beyond supportive. They never let anyone feel uncomfortable asking any sort of questions and students of all backgrounds and upbringings were welcome.
"One of the main things I learned during my UPP course is that there are three things you need to tackle anything: grit, determination, and resilience. With these three attributes, any of us can succeed," said Ms Barwick.
UPP Teaching Fellow, Dr I-Lien Tsay, said the program has provided students with a sense of belonging and confidence and has opened their eyes to opportunities available through the University of Tasmania.
“For a lot of Tasmanians, university doesn’t feel like something that is for them, but it is for everyone – it’s about learning together – and it’s incredibly rewarding as a teacher to see students accepting that they belong here,” Dr Tsay said.
“It doesn’t matter if they have arrived at the University without finishing high school or having not studied for a long time – that’s what the UPP has been designed for: to make sure all Tasmanians can access the opportunities education can offer.
Executive Dean of the College of Business and Economics Stuart Crispin said the UPP is essential to providing Tasmanians with access to higher education.
The preparation program goes to the core of the University’s mission to remove barriers to education and improve access to create opportunities for Tasmanians.
“By basing this program in the city, we’re simultaneously removing physical, financial and psychological barriers to education in brand new facilities close to industry, transport and services," Associate Professor Crispin said.
The UPP started in Burnie in 1996 and makes university possible by providing introductory university skills, study support, and career change pathways. Many of the students enrolled have decided they want to retrain for a different career and recognise that university will help them achieve this.
The UPP is offered face-to-face in Hobart, Launceston, and Cradle Coast and is also available online to support students who cannot attend in person due to work or family commitments. It runs for one year full time, and after completion, students can enrol in most undergraduate degrees at the university.