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Christina Buckridge on 0412 101 316.

A new Guaranteed Access Melbourne program at the University of Melbourne will give certainty to students from rural or isolated areas and in disadvantaged socio-economic circumstances who apply to enter the University of Melbourne in 2010 and meet the published criteria.

These students will now be guaranteed a Commonwealth supported place (CSP) in a New Generation degree (except Music, for which students have to audition) if their ENTER is 78 or above for Arts, Environments or Science, or 88 or above for Biomedicine and Commerce.

Students applying through Access Melbourne under other categories of disadvantage whose ENTERs fall below these figures are still eligible for a place, as the University considers each case individually.

All eligible students who have put in a Special Entry Access Schemes (SEAS) application through VTAC and who have applied for a place at Melbourne (or plan to change their preference to a Melbourne course) will be considered for the guaranteed Access Melbourne.

Deputy Vice-Chancellor Professor Sue Elliott, whose responsibility includes access and equity, says the guaranteed ENTER gives students from rural or isolated areas and in disadvantaged socio-economic circumstances certainty.  "They will know they have a place at Melbourne when they get their VCE results," she said.  "These are high-quality students whose results don’t necessarily reflect their true academic ability."

Professor Elliott says research has shown that Access Melbourne students who have experienced educational disadvantage during their schooling perform at much the same level at university as other students.  "The undergraduate experience at a good university is a level playing field where students from all backgrounds have the opportunity to flourish."

Lacey Verley and Zoe Shacklock are two current Access Melbourne students who made the move to the University of Melbourne from country Victoria - and are glad they did.

The eldest daughter of drought-stricken sheep and grain farmers in Boort, Northern Victoria, Lacey is completing the first year of the New Generation Bachelor of Arts.

She also received a scholarship through Access Melbourne to assist with relocation.  She admits it has been a big adjustment, but worth it. "I had never been in an environment where I was exposed to so many different cultures, customs, and people.  It’s been fantastic," she says.

Zoe Shacklock, originally of Shepparton and now a third-year Arts/ Science student also applied through Access Melbourne, because she knew that her particular disadvantages would be taken into consideration.  She says that transition is particularly difficult coming from the country as it involves moving away from home and into a new learning environment. But this veteran Access Melbourne student has some simple advice for prospective applicants: "You should definitely apply!"

The University of Melbourne introduced the broad Access Melbourne in 2005 and at least 20 per cent of Commonwealth supported places in all new Melbourne Model undergraduate courses are reserved for eligible Access Melbourne applicants. There are currently more than 450 Melbourne Access Scholarship recipients - the scholarships are worth $13,500 over three years - and more than 1000 students are receiving a Commonwealth Scholarship.

While Guaranteed Access Melbourne relates to the rural and disadvantaged socio-economic categories of the Access Melbourne program, other categories through which future students can apply include mature age, non-English speaking background, Indigenous Australians, difficult family circumstances, under-represented school, disability or long-term medical condition, or refugee status at some point in their lives.

For more information on Access Melbourne and to check eligibility, see http://www.futurestude...