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2017 NCSEHE National Equity Fellows Forum – Wrap-Up

The  2017 NCSEHE National Equity Fellows Forum was held alongside the Equity Practitioners in Higher Education Australasia (EPHEA) 2017 Conference at Queensland University of Technology on 20 November.

The NCSEHE has three primary objectives: to strengthen the evidence base by informing research directions; to collaborate with stakeholders to be at the centre of public policy dialogue; and to promote leadership and innovation in the equity sector. The NCSEHE Equity Fellows Program has been central to advancing these objectives, complementing the Centre’s core activities in connecting research, policy and practice to improve access, participation and success for disadvantaged students.

Over the past two years, we have been privileged to support six emerging leaders through the Equity Fellows Program, each conducting targeted, high-profile projects focused on improving outcomes for individuals from disadvantaged backgrounds.

The National Equity Fellows Forum showcased the three projects conducted by the 2017 Equity Fellows, Louise Pollard (The University of Western Australia), Matt Brett (La Trobe University) and James A. Smith (Charles Darwin University) who shared an overview of their respective projects, taking the discussion forward into a broader context.

A panel session followed the Fellows’ individual presentations, engaging the brains trust of over 60 attendees in active discussion, sharing professional insights, experiences and ideas to work toward improving outcomes for disadvantaged students in Australian higher education.

Chaired by Robert Latta (Manager of the Quality and Access Branch in the Higher Education Group in the Department of Education and Training), this strategic directions section yielded constructive conversation around the intersection between the three pillars of the NCSEHE’s activities: Research; Policy; and Practice. Each of the three Fellows led discussion on these points, and were joined by NCSEHE Director Professor Sue Trinidad who expanded on the activities of the Centre and offered evidence-informed input.

The Fellows each gave an introduction to the themes and critical questions associated with them:

  • Research – what questions should we be prioritising for student equity? (James Smith)
  • Policy – What is the relevance of student equity for tertiary education policy reform? (Matt Brett)
  • Practice – how can we ensure the value and impact of student equity practice? (Louise Pollard)

The questions raised by the Equity Fellows were strongly informed by their Fellowship projects:

  • James Smith – Strengthening evaluation within Indigenous higher education contexts in Australia
  • Matt Brett – Equity, performance and accountability
  • Louise Pollard – Remote student university success: an analysis of policy and practice

Read a synthesis of the group discussion here.

Access the Forum presentation and audio recording below:

The 2017 Equity Fellows Forum was a great success in generating fresh insights into equity challenges and the responses to them. Importantly, this was achieved in a collective and collaborative way through discussion and debate among invited delegates who were experts in equity in higher education and engaged in policy, research and practice.

The NCSEHE would like to thank all of the delegates to the 2017 Equity Fellows Forum for participating in the gathering and for the constructive way they combined to advance the equity agenda in Australian higher education.

The group discussion continued online through #NEFF17. You can catch up with the Twitter feed from our participants here.

The Forum would not have been possible without the work of a dedicated group of people and the support of the Australian Government Department of Education and Training and Curtin University. The NCSEHE would like to extend gratitude to our speakers: the 2017 NCSEHE Equity Fellows, Associate Professor James Smith, Mr Matt Brett and Ms Louise Pollard and Mr Robert Latta; the NCSEHE Advisory Board; the NCSEHE Advisory Committee; and Equity Fellows Program Selection and Reference Committee, all of whom volunteer their time to assist us in achieving our goals. We would also like to thank Gabrielle O’Brien (President, EPHEA) and the staff from Queensland University of Technology who provided continued support in conducting this successful event.


View the Forum program here.

The event transcript will be made available on the NCSEHE website shortly.

Posted 4 December 2017 Posted in Disability, Editorial, General, Indigenous, International, Low SES, Regional