Mentoring and Language Initiative
The 2010 initiative is based on a Pilot Program delivered in 2009. Like its predecessor, the 2010 Program has been designed to support women from the Toowoomba refugee and migrant communities in gaining entry, initially into University preparatory programs offered through the Open Access College, and secondly into degree courses available at USQ. Financial backing for both Programs has been provided from the University’s Equity Initiative Fund.
Key elements of the initiative include practical assistance with English language skills, exercises in preparation for Tertiary Preparation Programs (TPP), and workshops in ‘career mapping’ – a visual system for self-assessment of career aptitudes/skills. A coaching and mentoring program is also provided to help participants negotiate problems frequently encountered by students in beginning University coursework from a non-English speaking cultural background.
Of the eleven students who have participated in the Program offered in 2009 and 2010, four are now enrolled in undergraduate study including Law, Education and Computing; all students have shown significant improvement in the use and comprehension of English and a greater familiarity with the Australian tertiary learning culture, computing skill and study techniques. All students have displayed an increased understanding of the value of coaching/peer mentoring as a valuable tool for furthering their study and career goals.
Another particularly important outcome has been the establishment of a collaborative partnership with Toowoomba TAFE Migrant English Program, together with the consolidation of important cooperative working relationships between Toowoomba Refugee and Migrant Support (TRAMS) and Toowoomba Centacare.
Based on a Pilot Program delivered in 2008 (and funded through the USQ Equity Incentive Scheme), this project seeks to help mature-age women from the refugee and migrant communities in and around Toowoomba gain entry to study at USQ. It does this by assisting them in their use of spoken and written English language, and in preparing them for admission to the USQ Tertiary Preparation Program.
In addition the project provides participants with:
training in the use of career mapping techniques to bring greater clarity to decisions about career goals, and
a mentor or coaching program to help them negotiate the USQ learning environment.
Mentors are matched with individual participants and are selected from students who are familiar with the problems frequently encountered in understanding new cultural practices. In 2010 mentors and mentees range from a number of widely differing countries including Bangladesh, Iraq, Chad, Italy and Sudan.
The Program has been specifically designed to meet the needs of women who have had little formal education prior to arriving in Australia but have nevertheless acquired a reasonable grasp and understanding of English language.
Like its 2008 predecessor the current Project also aims to consolidate the partnership developed with the Toowoomba TAFE Migrant English Program and cooperative linkages with refugee community groups in the region.
Building, consolidating and extending the mentoring and language initiative for mature-age women refugee students in the Toowoomba region
This project aims to assist mature aged women from refugee communities gain entry to the USQ by optimising their chances of admission to the USQ Tertiary Preparation Program. This goal is facilitated by initiatives to improve fluency in English language and by using mentoring as a tool to help participants successfully traverse the USQ learning culture.
The project also aims to retain students and expand the work already undertaken by the Pilot Mentoring and Language Initiative 2008, previously funded through the Equity Incentive Scheme in addition to consolidate the partnerships developed with the Toowoomba TAFE Migrant English Program.
For more information please contact Gay Mason
, Project Officer, USQ Multicultural Centre or Mr William Conwell
, Manager, USQ Multicultural Centre.