WU is an open university and strives to demonstrate this openness in everything it does. In early 2016 a pilot program was launched to give talented high school students the opportunity to attend WU, regardless of their socio-economic background.
The program was launched at five pilot schools in Vienna. In the first phase, schools nominated students for the scholarship program. Reactions from the schools’ principals were very positive and interest in participation was high. A total of 18 high school students applied for the scholarship program, and eight were selected to receive the grant and enroll for the 16/17 academic year.
In addition to the scholarship grant, WU also provides practical support to these students. Especially when starting out at university, unfamiliar situations and the many administrative and organizational requirements can be daunting, and can even cause students to give up and drop out. To help prevent this, scholarship recipients are automatically enrolled in the Mentoring@WU program, allowing them to benefit from the experience of more advanced students. Scholarship students also meet with faculty members acting as senior mentors once a month for coaching.
The program was so successful that it is being extended to additional schools in other parts of the country in 2017.