Research from the United Kingdom has highlighted the challenges associated with widening access to research-intensive universities (Harris, 2010). Students from low socio-economic backgrounds and/or minority groups on campus may have met the academic entry requirements but still choose not to apply, often citing reasons such as feeling unsure of whether they will feel included in the campus community (The Sutton Trust, 2010). These challenges also face research-intensive universities in Australia (Montesin, Caruana, Ashley, & Mackay, 2009). Students can feel that they do not really “belong” on campus and may feel excluded from the dominant campus culture. Changing campus culture to make it more inclusive and diverse relies on creating pathways into, through and out of higher education to successful careers for students from diverse backgrounds. The Fairway UWA program, an innovative alternative entry program to a research-intensive university, operates on this principle. This paper is a case study of the first five years of the Fairway UWA program, tracing the development of the program from conception to the first group of graduates. Through use of qualitative and quantitative data, it will record the growth in numbers, scope, engagement and expansion of ways in which students engage. Through analysis of demographic data, administrative data and qualitative data collected through evaluation from participants, teachers and university volunteers, a comprehensive analysis of the successes and lessons learnt offers a model that may be largely or in part applicable to other Australian universities.
Keywords: access, transition, Higher Education