World Access to Higher Education Day #WAHED2020
17 November 2020
The NCSEHE and Equity Practitioners in Higher Education Australasia (EPHEA) invited equity practitioners from Australia and New Zealand to a Zoom celebration on 17 November to launch World Access to Higher Education Day (WAHED) 2020.
Over 200 national and international delegates joined us to hear keynote speaker Professor Sally Kift on Equity and the ‘Anxiety Machine’: Fitting your own oxygen mask first, as well as a student panel highlighting the wide-reaching impact of equity practitioners in higher education.
As a central component of the event, we asked students and staff to nominate someone they felt had demonstrated being a ‘Champion for Change’. These ‘Champions’ have been recognised for repeatedly going above and beyond to ensure that students are supported. We would like to congratulate all of our WAHED Champions for Change: https://www.ncsehe.edu.au/wahed-2020-champions-for-change/
To conclude the event, participants then joined a selection of Zoom-friendly wellness activities including desk yoga, an online scavenger hunt and a mandala workshop!
Captions and transcript pending.
Keynote — Professor Sally Kift
Equity and the ‘Anxiety Machine’: Fitting your own oxygen mask first
Supporting good mental health and wellbeing for higher education students and staff is core university business. If more than a moral imperative is required for this statement, the Higher Education Standards Framework mandates this must be so, while institutions are similarly and fundamentally obligated under work health and safety legislation. But even pre-pandemic, higher education had been described as an “anxiety machine” for staff (Morrish, 2019). With our sector in turmoil, and warnings now that the long-term mental health impact of COVID-19 must not be ignored, attention to higher education mental wellbeing is now more urgent and critical than ever before.
This presentation highlighted that, as for all university staff, the wellbeing of equity practitioners deserves our sector’s care and consideration for three reasons in particular. First, and quite obviously, in its own right because all staff in the university community matter. Secondly, because equity colleagues have shouldered much of the burden as ‘first responders’ in valiant efforts to mitigate and troubleshoot inequities in our remote emergency responses. And thirdly, because, in increasingly precarious workplaces, it is salutary to remember that the wellbeing of staff impacts the wellbeing of students.
Professor Sally Kift is a Principal Fellow of the Higher Education Academy (PFHEA), a Fellow of the Australian Academy of Law (FAAL), and President of the Australian Learning & Teaching Fellows (ALTF). Sally is also a Visiting Professorial Fellow at the NCSEHE. She has held several university leadership positions, most recently Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Academic) at James Cook University. Sally is a national Teaching Award winner, a Senior Teaching Fellow and a Discipline Scholar, Law. In 2017, she received an Australian University Career Achievement Award for her contribution to Australian higher education.
“How equity practitioners have enhanced/enabled my higher education journey.”
Zoom-friendly wellness activities, delivered by individual EPHEA Chapters.
“Champions for Change”
Nominees were recognised for the life-changing work they do every day to support students from disadvantaged backgrounds. Here are the 2020 WAHED Champions for Change: https://www.ncsehe.edu.au/wahed-2020-champions-for-change/
You can still nominate a Champion for Change!
Know someone who deserves to be recognised for their hard work to improve access to higher education? Nominate them as a WAHED Champion for Change (it only takes five minutes!).
These Champions are those people who regularly go above and beyond to make the Australasian tertiary education landscape more inclusive and accessible for everyone.
A final word from the students…
About World Access to Higher Education Day (WAHED)
WAHED is an annual event, raising worldwide awareness around inequalities in access and success in higher education and acting as a catalyst for international, regional and local action.
This year, WAHED took the form of a global conference series, based around Access and success in the post-pandemic world, and feature a series of six events, each led by an organisation active in promoting equity in higher education within their own continent.