2020 NCSEHE Equity Fellow Tim Pitman
Supporting people with disability from regional, rural and remote Australia, to succeed in higher education
Tim Pitman, Curtin University
About the Equity Fellowship
My Equity Fellowship will focus on how universities can best support people with disability, who come from regional, rural and remote Australia, in their higher education studies. These students not only study in regional universities, they also relocate to cities, or study online. Currently, there are anywhere between 8,000–10,000 people from regional Australia, who identify as having disability, undertaking higher education studies. In this project, I am excited to be working with students with disability, and the higher education staff who support them, to deepen our knowledge and understanding about what works, and what doesn’t. I will examine:
- the various modes in which students study (e.g., part-time, online, on-campus, etc.) and the specific barriers they face—and overcome—associated with these modes
- the built environment of the university: for example, building access, accommodation, transport hubs
- the technological environment, including what technological solutions universities provide to support people with disability and what solutions students bring themselves
- the social environment, especially the ways in which people with disability are included or excluded both within the classroom or more generally.
I am a researcher of higher education policy at Curtin University. My specific interest is in how universities can widen access, participation and success for groups of students historically underrepresented in higher education. This includes persons from low socioeconomic status backgrounds; Indigenous persons; people with disability; people from non-English speaking backgrounds; and people from regional and remote parts of Australia. My interest in supporting students with disability started almost 20 years ago, working in a university’s exams department and providing reasonable adjustments—or as they were known back then ‘special exams’—for students with various needs. Since then, our knowledge of how to support students has improved significantly, but we still have so much more to learn.
Would you like to help me?
Throughout 2020, I will be travelling around Australia and speaking to students with disability, disability support officers and other people who provide support to students. If you are a student with disability and you are from regional, remote or rural Australia (no matter what university you are currently studying at) I would love to speak to you. Likewise, if you support students with disability and have an understanding of the particular challenges relating to the intersection of disability and regionality, please let me know. You can contact me on firstname.lastname@example.org