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Equity support still needed in disability and NESB backgrounds

A new study, funded by the NCSEHE and led by Dr Ian Li from the University of Western Australia, has confirmed that equity students are generally well-supported in their university study, although challenges remained, in particular for students with disability and from Non-English Speaking Backgrounds (NESB).

Equity groups have increasing access to higher education enrolment, but factors including health, finance and disposition towards study can contribute to the decision of disadvantaged students to drop out of university study. This study looks at the determinants of student satisfaction and academic outcomes at university, with a focus on equity group differences.


The 2008 Bradley Review of Australian higher education identified the need to better support access and participation of disadvantaged individuals in higher education, with the aim of improving their socioeconomic outcomes through the provision and attainment of university study. The recommendations of the Bradley Review have had bipartisan support and have led to a number of initiatives within the higher education sector aimed at achieving the targets set out in the Bradley Review.

Over the past decade, participation in higher education by Australians from disadvantaged groups has been increasing. However, their degree completion rates still lag behind those of their fellow students from more privileged backgrounds. It is thus of interest to explore the differences in university academic outcomes for students from disadvantaged backgrounds, as well as the determinants of those differences. In addition, it is of interest to examine whether there are differences in student experience at university for disadvantaged groups, and how student experience contributes to academic outcomes.


This study investigated the determinants of student satisfaction in Australian higher education, with a focus on students in various equity groups. Furthermore, the study examined the determinants of three key academic outcomes:

  • being at risk of dropout
  • actual dropout from university studies
  • academic performance, as measured by students’ Weighted Average Marks (WAM).

Read more here.

Media release.

Posted 8 March 2017 Posted in General, Indigenous, Low SES, Regional, rural and remote