The NSW countryside is bone dry. Once verdant towns like Bowral in the Southern Highlands and Muswellbrook in the Hunter are now whitish-yellow – and classified as areas of ‘intense drought’. Indeed, the whole state has been designated as ‘in drought’.
With these conditions come the need for extra farmhands, which are often younger family members, who help out before and/or after school. That’s why the NSW university admissions body, UAC, is offering assistance to prospective rural university students.
They are publicising the fact that a disadvantage category under their Education Access Schemes (EAS), ‘excessive family responsibilities’, can encompass these due to drought. EAS categories that may also pertain to drought conditions include ‘disrupted schooling’ and ‘financial hardship’.
EAS works by adding ‘bonus points’ to a person’s university application, if their ATAR is below the cut-off for their chosen course. It can also render a person eligible for a EAS-reserved course place. Though, in neither of these cases does it guarantee university admission.
The announcement will be welcome news to ambitious yet struggling young herders and harvesters. Given the vast gap between rural and metropolitan education outcomes, these university applicants need all the help they can get.Do you have an idea for a story?
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