UNSW established its flagship outreach program, Aspire, in 2007 with the objective of improving access to tertiary education for underrepresented students. To date, Aspire has significantly contributed to the higher education equity landscape and has laid a sound foundation upon which to build our future work in student equity. 

At the end of 2019, we undertook a substantial review of the Aspire program and have committed to new areas of focus and developed strategic aims to guide our program development, evaluation, and research.

The NSW Equity Consortium

We have undertaken a five-year partnership (2020 - 2025) with the University of Technology Sydney and Macquarie University to engage in outreach work which seeks to build student and school capacity for accessing tertiary education and improving learning outcomes post-school. 

In collaboration with schools and teachers, the consortium has developed the Imagined Futures outreach program targeting underrepresented students in whole-cohort year-groups between Years 7 and 9.

The program uses literacy as a vehicle to encourage students to conceptualise their ‘imagined futures’ and positively impact their learning trajectory. Each university undertakes a single literacy-focused learning initiative of four-to-five weeks for one year group. It then repeats this year-on- year, for the duration of time committed to the project.

Year 7 program component – led by Macquarie University 

Year 8 program component – led by UTS

Year 9 program component – led by UNSW

The project facilitates a longitudinal research inquiry which will follow students over the first five years of their secondary schooling to explore their engagement in the program.

The research is embedded into the design of the program, with teachers co-delivering the program and engaging in professional development focused on participatory research and data literacy to inform classroom practice.   

Each university is responsible for evaluating its own component of the program and all evaluation will be based on a shared Theory of Change and evaluation framework.  


Partner Universities








Partner Schools


Partner Universities






Partner Universities

UNSW, Macquarie University and UTS jointly fund the NSW Equity Consortium through strategic university funding, philanthropic donations and endowments. UNSW allocates a portion of Higher Education Participation and Partnerships Program (HEPPP) funding to the NSW Equity Consortium.


Australian Government





Higher Education Participation and Partnerships Program (HEPPP)

The NSW Equity Consortium is proudly supported by the Australian Government through the Higher Education Participation and Partnerships Program (HEPPP) which provides funding to universities to implement strategies that improve access to undergraduate courses for people from regional and remote Australia, low socio-economic status (SES) backgrounds, and Indigenous persons. HEPPP also helps to improve the retention and completion rates of those students.


NSW Government






Collaboration and Innovation Fund

The NSW Equity Consortium is proudly funded by the NSW Government, Department of Education, through the Collaboration and Innovation Fund which aims to enhance collaboration between universities and the NSW Government to address social, economic, and environmental challenges.