Labor has made a $6 million election commitment to a University of Canberra program that offers disadvantaged students a pathway into higher education by engaging them with sport.
About 500 students from the ACT and surrounding regions in years 10, 11 and 12 would get access to sport clinics at the university's campus each year, along with mentoring from elite athletes and health professionals.
Shadow assistant treasurer Andrew Leigh said the "sport and health empower program" would reserve places for Indigenous students and people from socially disadvantaged groups, and it would offer guaranteed university places to some students.
"We know across Australia there are lost Einsteins and Curies, brilliant young people who don't get the chance to do those studies that will benefit them and the nation," Dr Leigh said.
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University of Canberra executive dean of health Michelle Lincoln said Australian children were highly engaged with sport but that declined in their high school years.
"Sport is a great grounding for everything you need to succeed at university. It teaches you team work and co-operation with others. It teaches you resilience, persistence, doing your best. It teaches you took after your own body and mind so you can perform to the best of your abilities.
"And we want students in the ACT to know that those are the characteristics that will help you succeed at university," Professor Lincoln said.
- with Sally Whyte