Fast Forward program opens doors for high school students

Fast Forward alumni, Salam Werdy, Holly Towner and Matthew Bryant, who are now first year students at Western Sydney University

Western Sydney University’s Fast Forward program is empowering a growing number of Greater Western Sydney high school students to pursue an education beyond Year 12.

Since its inception in 2004, Fast Forward has supported almost 15,000 students, connecting them with opportunities to engage with the University, including workshops, activities, mentoring and study sessions. Participants may also be able to apply for the Fast Forward Academic Excellence Scholarship.

According to Mr Jim Micsko, Manager of Widening Participation Engagement Marketing, the program aims to empower students facing barriers to education, including disadvantage, financial pressure and carer responsibilities, who may not consider higher education as an option.

“The program encourages high school students to start thinking about their futures and careers as early as possible,” said Mr Micsko.

“We work closely with local schools to provide students with positive learning experiences in a university setting. They have opportunities to engage with lecturers and support staff, learn about scholarships, and to meet other students with similar interests.”

Last year, 70 per cent of the participants in the program received an offer to a university. The team believes the ongoing nature of the program is key to its success.

“Fast Forward is a joint and sustained effort. We build relationships with young people when they commence in the program in Year 9. Together with their teachers and careers advisors, we ensure students have the information they need to make an informed decision about higher education,” said Mr Micsko.

“For students who are the first in their family to attend university, the program bridges the gap between high school and higher education and provides essential guidance and support.”

Former Chifley College Senior Campus student and Blacktown resident Holly Towner said the Fast Forward program gave her the push she needed to enrol in the Bachelor of Arts/Social Science.

“I have always been interested in the different aspects of psychology and through my own experience dealing with anxiety, I am determined to help others in my career,” said Ms Towner.

“As the first in my immediate family to attend university and coming from a low socioeconomic area, the program helped me to figure out what course was best suited to me.

“The opportunity to visit the campus, sit in on lectures and talk to other students gave me a great insight into what uni is all about. It was completely different from what I expected, but it was amazing!”

Fairfield resident Salam Werdy, who attended Bossley Park High School, knew very little about university before joining the program.

“Through the workshops, I learnt about the opportunities available to me, including with Western Sydney University’s Solar Car Team, which got me thinking about my future,” said Mr Werdy.

“I love maths and design and was inspired by my father who is a mechanical engineer. I spent a lot of time with him in his workshop and now I’m studying to become an engineer myself.

“Participating in Fast Forward during my senior years gave me the confidence to apply for an advanced course. Studying Engineering is a challenge, but I’m really enjoying it so far.”

For more information on the program, please visit the Fast Forward page (opens in a new window).


16 July 2020

Ali Sardyga, Media Officer

Photo credit: Sally Tsoutas