History of Learn, Experience, Access Professions (LEAP)

 Program origins

In 2010 the eight Victorian Universities, the Victorian campuses of Australian Catholic University, and the Department of Education and Early Childhood Development (now DET), the Catholic Education Commission of Victoria and Independent Schools Victoria formed a group and established a multilateral partnership agreement to support participation of students from low SES backgrounds in higher education.

The idea for the LEAP program was developed by this group and became a successful grant winner through the Commonwealth Government's Higher Education Participation and Partnerships Program (HEPPP), receiving funds to establish the program in Victoria. The original grant period was from 2012 - December 2014.

Organisational structure

The LEAP program was overseen by a Steering Committee of representatives from each partner organisation.

The activities and the web content for each LEAP profession area were developed by small project teams of specialists from the original nine partner universities. Those project teams in turn were each supported by an Advisory Group comprising teachers, professionals, industry representatives and university students. Project teams regularly reviewed and refined activities and information content to maintain relevance. 


The LEAP Program aimed to demystify the links between school, higher education and professions.

Activities and web content were developed to encourage secondary students from low SES communities to consider professional careers as a future option. The professional fields covered, as at 2017, are Business, Design, Engineering, Health, ICT, Law and Science. With a focus on these professions, LEAP offered students at 282 LEAP Priority Schools free access to a range of university campus, workplace and school-based activities along with online resources. Students were able to learn more about their career options, the role of higher education in attaining their career goals, and the pathways into these professions. 

Activity Design

The LEAP activities developed for each profession:

About LEAP Priority Schools

In 2012, 254 Government, Catholic and Independent schools in Victoria were identified by LEAP as Priority Schools, based on the criteria that their Index of Community Socio Economic Advantage (ICSEA) was a value of 1000 or less in the most recent available data.

To maintain an equitable approach and allow for year to year fluctuations, the originally listed schools remained on the LEAP Priority Schools list, while schools below the 1000 mark in the latest available ICSEA values were added.

Up to 2016/17, 282 Government, Catholic and Independent schools in Victoria had been deemed eligible as LEAP Priority Schools

Prioritising participation in activities

Where demand for activities exceeded capacity, priority for participation was given to schools with a current ICSEA value at or below 1000, and with a higher percentage of students in the bottom quartile based on student background. 

Participation Cost

LEAP activities were available free of charge, on request, to all listed LEAP Priority Schools and their students. Delivery, location and timing were subject to budget and resource availability.

LEAP Travel Support (full or partial reimbursement of costs) was made available to students or schools where the cost of travel was a barrier to participation, where their ICSEA data (2012 to latest available) showed the school to be generally at or below the ICSEA 1000 mark.

LEAP Performance 2012 - 2015

Program Implementation
After LEAP's initial Program setup and Profession activity development/ trials in 2012, LEAP delivered a full three years of operations, commencing with four profession areas (Design, Engineering, Health and Law). LEAP expanded in late 2013 - mid 2014 with the addition of the Sciences and Business professions.

School University Liaison Officers (SULOs) 2013-2014
School University Liaison Officers (SULOs) were engaged in 2013 & 2014, to assist with LEAP Priority Schools' awareness of the LEAP Program and to ensure they understood how to use LEAP website's simple one-stop-shop online request system, to access LEAP activities across all of the LEAP profession activity suites. After 2014, with staff turnover in some schools, there was an inevitable decline in awareness of LEAP following the cessation of the SULOs program. 

Engagement with schools: Outcomes
By the end of 2015, over 26,900 students had participated in 673 events.*
Throughout Victoria, the proportion of school participation in all years was consistently: Regional schools (48%); Metro schools (52%). Y9-10 students, being the main decision making years for careers, had the highest level of participation across the three years - Y9 students (40%, 43% and 39%) and Y10 students (27%, 28% and 24%).

Activities were delivered to students from 244 of the 278 LEAP priority Schools. Many schools attended multiple events during this period.

During this period LEAP consistently received very positive feedback from teachers and students:

  • 83% of students found participation increased their knowledge of jobs in the professions
  • Over 70% of students indicated the activities helped them learn about study options and pathways into the professions
  • 98% of teachers indicated their students found the event attended interesting
  • 91% of teachers stated the event attended allowed their students to link in-school learning to the real world
  • 85% of teachers commented the event attended helped students understand the value of studying at university
  • 99 schools had student participation in more than one activity
  • 141 schools had student participation in four or more activities. (highest participation of any one school: 21 activities).

* Based on evaluations processed from events. Due to various factors, up to 60 further events were conducted where no evaluation sheets could be completed.

Letter of Acknowledgement
School University Liaison Officers (SULOs) 2013-2014

"The SULOs, employed by Monash University via a grant from DEECD, commenced in November 2012 and have worked with low SES schools across Victoria to inform student aspirations and boost participation in higher education. They have played a key role in supporting the implementation of the LEAP program.

"During their time, they have promoted stronger engagement in school-university activities, increased understanding of programs and activities available to raise students' awareness of higher education options, and developed a range of resources to inform student aspirations and increase knowledge of SEAS and scholarship opportunities. Their knowledge of how schools and universities operate and their support in facilitating and arranging a range of activities has been highly valued by schools and other stakeholders.

"Resources developed by the SULOs will be made available on the DEECD website and schools will be notified of their availability via the LEAP newsletter.

"The SULOs finished up on 31 December 2014. We thank them for their work and wish them well with their future endeavours.

Professor Sue Willis
Vice-Provost (Education Programs)
Monash University,
December 2014

LEAP Program partnership - 2016-2017

LEAP has continued to operate the same model of activity delivery Victoria-wide as a collaborative initiative in 2016 and 2017, funded by Australian Catholic University (Vic.), La Trobe University, The University of Melbourne, Monash University and Victoria University. LEAP also worked cooperatively with Federation University Australia for delivery of activities to Victorian regional schools.

During this time, a seventh profession area, Information & Communications Technology, was added to the LEAP Profession suite.

Engagement with schools: Outcomes
This information will be made available at the end of 2017.

Get in touch

To enquire about LEAP activities for your school
please contact one of LEAP's participating Universities