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VU brings free career and course counselling to Highpoint

Victoria University is bringing free career and education counselling to a busy shopping centre for two weeks.

VU Community Gateways is a mobile booth at Highpoint Shopping Centre that is staffed by career counsellors who offer study and career advice to career-changers, retirees, the unemployed, migrants and even curious shoppers who might otherwise not seek out future-planning information.

Project manager Christine Mountford said the service is not a course promoter for VU since participants will be given information matched to their interests and needs, which may relate to other universities or trainers.

"Community Gateways will reduce barriers to accessing career counselling and help broaden the participation of students in university from non-traditional university backgrounds," she said.

The project was run as a pilot at Highpoint late last year with resounding success.  Counsellors held sessions with nearly 200 participants, many who came back for follow-up advice. There are no set times for session appointments, which can take from five minutes to more than an hour.

"We saw a huge range of people with a variety of interests: some wanted guidance about upgrading their skills, some about changing professions, and some about returning to do that degree or diploma they've always put off," she said.

Community Gateways offers a strategic response to the federal government's social inclusion agenda and university completion rates. The government has set a target by 2020 of increasing the number of undergraduate degrees in Australia (with 20 per cent to come from low socio-economic backgrounds) and to double the number of diplomas and advanced diploma completions.

In future, Community Gateways will be located in libraries and other community gathering places, including a return to Highpoint in May and December for further two-week blocks.

VU Community Gateways at Highpoint Shopping Centre is made possible with the generous provision of free retail space from Highpoint's management, GPT Group.

VU Community Gateways is at: Level 1, Highpoint Shopping Centre, (adjacent the cinemas)

When: 18 - 29 January 2010, Monday to Friday, from 9am – 5pm.

To book an appointment, call the VU Contact Centre on 9919-6100, visit the website at http://www.vu.edu.au/future-students/community-gateways or simply go to the booth.

Contact:

Christine Mountford, VU Community Gateways project manager, Victoria University Ph: (03) 9919 7709.

Media Contact: Ann Marie Angebrandt, A/Senior Media Officer,

Marketing and Communications Department, Victoria University Ph: (03) 9919 5487 or 0403 556 001

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