Improving Equity in Higher Education
Swinburne University, 35 Wakefield Street, Hawthorn, VIC 3122
27 October 2022
This presentation draws on Associate Professor Nadine Zacharia’s research, practice and policy work over the past 10 years as well as insights from the recent World Higher Education Conference (WHEC2022) in Barcelona with the theme of Leave no one behind.
Australia is one of the global success stories in increasing participation of equity group students in higher education but its ambitions and outcomes declined between 2017 and 2022. The new Australian government has re-affirmed the national commitment to equity in higher education and articulated its aspiration for a step change in participation rates of students from Indigenous, low SES, and/or regional and remote backgrounds. This is to be achieved through “trialling, evaluating, implementing and monitoring the sorts of things that will really shift the dial” (Jason Clare, Minister for Education, 6 July 2022).
This lecture looks at the macro (policy), meso (institutional practice) and micro (widening participation and retention initiatives) levels of equity in Australian higher education to distill the core learnings from the past decade and to propose necessary next steps for policy, research and practice.
Associate Professor Nadine Zacharias, Director (Student Engagement) and Acting Director (Swinburne Student Life); Swinburne University of Technology
Nadine leads transformative work in higher education to achieve a more equitable and high-performing sector which can support an increasingly diverse student cohort and leverage the potential of individuals for the common good. She is the Director, Student Engagement at Swinburne University of Technology and currently on secondment as acting Director, Swinburne Student Life.
Nadine has made a sustained contribution to student equity research, policy and practice in Australian tertiary education. This was enabled by research roles with the National Centre for Student Equity in Higher Education (NCSEHE), including as an inaugural Equity Fellow, as well as senior management roles at Swinburne and Deakin University. Nadine has led cross-disciplinary and cross-institutional research projects (> $2.6m) and, with Dr Matt Brett and Prof Sally Kift, developed a proposed policy statement for Australian tertiary education in The Best Chance for All.