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Source: University of Canterbury

07 September 2021

A growing number of Pacific students from Canterbury high schools are signing up for a free tutoring programme giving them extra support with NCEA.

  • The University of Canterbury’s UCMeXL outreach programme offers Pacific high school students support with NCEA subjects.

UCMeXL is a community outreach programme offered by the University of Canterbury (UC) with the goal of helping Pacific students achieve higher results in the National Certificate of Educational Achievement (NCEA) levels 1,2 and 3.

It has been running for over a decade, but this year’s participation has been the highest so far, with more than 100 students a day coming to the free study sessions held at the University’s Ilam campus during the July school holidays.

“Usually we get about 60 or 70 a day. It’s been incredible growth and it’s awesome to see,” says University of Canterbury Pacific Engagement Co-ordinator Viane Makalio.

“We want to provide an opportunity for Pasifika students to come together, study together and succeed together.”

He is expecting the numbers to be even bigger for the upcoming October school holidays programme, which is typically busier because it’s closer to the end of the school year. Makalio says the latest lockdown is likely to increase demand even further as students seek to make up for time missed at school.

“What we hear from the students shows the programme has a huge impact on their results,” Makalio says. “We want them to achieve at least a level higher in NCEA than they would have without tutoring, and hopefully two levels. We’ve had a lot of feedback from students saying it can be the difference between them passing and failing.

“Some of the comments we’ve had in follow-up surveys are that taking part helped them get back on track and opened their eyes to opportunities.”

In feedback forms following the July sessions, student comments included: “Thank you for creating an environment that makes you feel welcome”, “Just want to say thank you guys for the help, we really needed it”, and “Coming here reminds me that we are not alone in this”.

The programme, which is supported by alumni donations through the University of Canterbury Foundation, offers Pasifika students tutoring, meals and transport to and from different locations across Christchurch.

Students who are working hard in the UCMeXL study sessions are rewarded with prizes, including $100 vouchers. UCMeXL also offers fun activities and games to keep students engaged.

UC Deputy Vice-Chancellor Academic | Tumu Tuarua Akoranga Catherine Moran says the University is committed to UCMeXL and proud of its success. “The programme is a way to actively engage with our community and support Pacific students’ success at high school and beyond. We’re also welcoming the students on to our campus, helping them get more familiar with the University environment.”

The UC Pacific Development Team and the Pacific Future Student Advisor from the UC Liaison team have already visited several schools this year to promote the programme, including some as far away as Ashburton and Wellington. Ashburton College has the highest number of Pacific students of any High School in the South Island.

  • The next UCMeXL programme will be held 5-7 October and 12-14 October at the University of Canterbury’s Ilam campus.