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New Equity Fellowship research — University-wide accessibility enhances experiences for students with disability

Two people communicating with sign language

New research has shown how a universal approach to accessible facilities, course delivery, and disability awareness will enhance participation and success for university students with disability, particularly those from regional areas.

The study by NCSEHE Equity Fellow Associate Professor Tim Pitman from Curtin University identified opportunities to improve students’ experiences and outcomes.

Read the full report: Supporting persons with disabilities to succeed in higher education


ACER, Curtin and NCSEHE report — More nuanced student equity measures needed

Wooden figures placed on blocks numbered 1 to 3

A new report by the Australian Council for Educational Research (ACER), Curtin University and the NCSEHE investigates the feasibility of ranking Australian universities by how inclusive they are, and how well they support underrepresented student cohorts.

Published by the Department of Education, Skills and Employment (DESE), the report cautions against using ranking systems exclusively to determine equity policy in higher education, due to the fundamental difficulty of finding agreement on what constitutes equity and how it should be measured.

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New research — Investigating the current mental health framework for equity groups

Two people sitting opposite one another in an office

New research led by Dr Tomasz Zając from The University of Queensland has identified the critical importance of pre-existing poor mental health as a predictor of student attrition during the first year of university.

The NCSEHE-funded study found Indigenous students and people with disability were more likely to exhibit poor mental health prior to commencing their university studies than their non-equity counterparts. 

Read the full report: Investigating the relevance of mental health for the current equity groups framework: An analysis of multi-agency linked-administrative data


New research — Understanding wellbeing challenges for university students during crisis disruption

Image of a student wearing a mask

A new study led by Dr Lynette Vernon of Edith Cowan University investigated mental health and wellbeing amongst university students, and how the levels of support offered by institutions impacts students during periods of disruption.

For higher education students, maintaining optimum mental health and wellbeing is imperative to participate and engage in all aspects of learning. The repercussions from the disruptions of 2020 mean Australian university students have been under immense pressure to adapt to considerably different study conditions.

Read the NCSEHE-funded report: Understanding wellbeing challenges for university students during crisis disruption 


New research — Towards an Inclusive Analytics for Australian higher education

Close up image of a person writing in a notebook

A new La Trobe University report, led by Dr Bret Stephenson, recommends institutions embed greater data literacy and equity consciousness, in light of increasing interest in advanced data analytics techniques.

According to the NCSEHE-funded research, artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) applications now quietly power countless automated decision-making, and predictive processes, across university business areas and throughout the student life cycle.

Read the full report: Towards an Inclusive Analytics for Australian higher education


New research — Supporting careers of LGBTQIA+ students in Australian universities

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A research team led by Dr Zhou Jiang has found that despite large numbers of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer/questioning, intersex, asexual, and more (LGBTQIA+) students in higher education in Australia, this cohort has been historically excluded from existing defined equity groups.

Currently, little is known about how LGBTQIA+ individuals in universities are being supported to achieve better career outcomes. This NCSEHE-funded project by Flinders University, RMIT University, and the Australian College of Applied Psychology yielded recommendations for universities and government.

Read the full report: Supporting careers of LGBTQIA+ students in Australian universities


New research — Examining outcomes for care leavers in higher education

Four young people with backpacks walk along a tree-lined path

Drawing on the first longitudinal data set on care leavers in Australian higher education, new research led by Professor Andrew Harvey examines the access, geo-demographic profile, course selection, success, retention, and completion rates of care leavers.

The data set focuses on all aspects of the student life cycle, from pre-access through to access, attainment, and outcomes. As a result, this study provides the first clear picture of the journey of care leavers in higher education — students who have previously been “invisible”.

Read the NCSEHE-funded report, led by La Trobe University: Success, retention, and completion of care leaver students in Australian higher education


New research — Supporting and engaging students through COVID-19

Two students bumping elbows

A newly-released international study explored the strategies employed to support students to remain engaged during COVID-19 and how these were perceived by student groups, particularly those from minoritised and intersectional backgrounds.

The research team, led by Dr Lucy Mercer-Mapstone from the University of Sydney, surveyed students from 12 universities in Australia, the United Kingdom, and the United States.

Read the NCSEHE-funded report: Recommendations for equitable student support during disruptions to the higher education sector: Lessons from COVID-19


New research — University responses to enhancing equity in the post-COVID-19 landscape

Student sitting at a desk in a classroom

The COVID-19 pandemic has had significant and far-reaching consequences for the higher education sector, and has particularly impacted students from equity cohorts. 

Given the widespread and deep impacts of these changes, Mary Teague and colleagues found that it was timely to explore how universities responded to these challenges in terms of access and admissions, and participation and support for equity cohorts.

Read the NCSEHE-funded report led by the University of New South Wales: University responses to enhancing equity in the post-COVID landscape


New research — Aspirations, equity and higher education course choice: The path travelled

Image of a smiling high school student and adult

“Aspirations” have become a cornerstone of efforts to widen the participation of underrepresented groups in Australian higher education, with considerable practical and political attention given to “raising” aspirations over recent decades.

However, with very little longitudinal research on how students actually navigate their post-school futures, much of this activity has proceeded with limited understanding of the factors that enable or constrain the fulfilment of students’ aspirations post-school. New NCSEHE-funded research led by Dr Felicia Jaremus examined which students realise their childhood aspirations, for what higher education courses, and why.

Read the full report: Aspirations, equity and higher education course choice: The path travelled


Feature article — Supporting LGBTQIA+ students and staff in higher education

Rainbow-coloured flags at Southern Cross University

Individuals who identify as LGBTQIA+ can face exclusion and discrimination throughout higher education and into the workplace, often impacting their academic success and personal wellbeing.

Progress is being made across Australian universities to advance support and inclusion for students of diverse gender identities, and there is much to be learnt from established institution-led initiatives demonstrating outstanding practices in this area.

In this feature, we showcase two inspiring best practice case studies from leading institutions, Southern Cross University and Edith Cowan University. 

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Student Voice — Stories of Success: Helen Miller

Helen Miller

Helen Miller has lived with disability throughout her whole life and faced discrimination at many turns.

While studying online from her home in a small country town was ideal to help manage her health conditions, Helen credits creative outlets and learning as key factors that helped her through difficult times and also, adjusting to new realities.

Since we last caught up with Helen in 2018, life has thrown more challenging circumstances at her. Through persistence and resilience, she is continuing her lifelong journey of creativity and the pursuit of knowledge.

Read Helen's story


Feature article — Co-creating a manifesto for student-staff partnerships and equity

Pages from the Manifesto for student-staff partnerships & equity

In a new feature, Dr Amani Bell & Meenakshi Krishnaraj from the University of Sydney introduce a new resource to support student-staff partnerships and equity.

"We believe that student-staff partnerships can be a pathway toward socially just higher education, particularly when diversity is viewed as a strength, and when intersectionality and Indigenous ways of knowing and being are considered."

The manifesto was co-created with university students and staff during the 2021 Students as Partners roundtable.

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Call for papers: Student Success Special Issue

Student Success Journal logo with text: 2022 Special Issue Call for papers

Three NCSEHE Equity Fellows will be guest editors for the 2022 Student Success special issue, "Fostering connections in higher education: Inclusive pedagogies and practices".

Dr Katelyn Barney, Dr Nicole Crawford, and Dr Janine Delahunty are seeking contributions from a range of perspectives including:

  • teaching staff
  • academic learning advisors, librarians
  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander, Maori and Pacific and other First Nations centre/unit staff
  • enabling educators
  • satellite and regional campuses, including Regional University Centres (RUC) staff
  • peer mentor/peer support programs staff and students
  • equity practitioners.

Papers are due by 6 June.

More information and submissions


Student Equity in Higher Education Evaluation Framework (SEHEEF)

Student Equity in Higher Education Evaluation Framework (SEHEEF) banner image

Officially launched this week, the SEHEEF has been designed to support monitoring and evaluation of equity initiatives funded through the Higher Education Participation and Partnerships Program (HEPPP)

The DESE engaged the Institute for Social Science Research at the University of Queensland to co-design the Framework to effectively structure and guide three levels of evaluation:

  • a national program evaluation of the HEPPP
  • quality improvement evaluations of individual HEPPP-funded university programs and activities and evaluations of their effectiveness
  • impact of individual HEPPP-funded university programs and activities.

View the Final Report and Guidance Manual


Call for papers — Indigenous priorities for Equality, Diversity & Inclusion Special Issue

Smiling Indigenous person sitting at a desk

This special issue, "Indigenous priorities for Equality, Diversity & Inclusion (EDI)" seeks to conceptualise what Indigenous EDI is (and isn’t), to consider how it is understood and practiced, and to scrutinise EDI in all its embedded and nascent forms, in the context of society, work and organisation.

The issue will look to understand the role of Indigenous paradigms and systems of knowledge, perspectives of identity, relationality, reciprocity, and connectedness in the organising of EDI.

More information and submissions