Informing Policy and Practice III: 2016 Student Equity in Higher Education Research Grants Program Projects
by Professor Sue Trinidad and Professor John Phillimore — NCSEHE Program Leaders
Research by the National Centre for Student Equity in Higher Education (NCSEHE) in this third publication of the series Informing Policy and Practice continues to contribute to a solid evidence base and inform our discussions about how student equity policy and programs should be developed. The research confirms that there is more to be done to ensure that capable people from disadvantaged backgrounds are not prevented from accessing and completing higher education.
The NCSEHE’s competitive research program investigates the circumstances in which the educational futures of students from disadvantaged backgrounds unfold. Over the three funding rounds held so far, in 2014, 2015 and 2016, 1.4 million dollars has been made available by the NCSEHE for 34 research projects undertaken by Australian universities and other research organisations, demonstrating how we can improve participation and success in higher education.
We know from the research that promoting access to education, particularly for students from disadvantaged backgrounds, transforms the lives of individuals by providing access to opportunities that would not otherwise eventuate. Over the longer term, investment in equity also improves prospects for the extended families and communities of equity students as others seek to emulate their success.
The benefits of supporting equity in higher education are tangible and considerable, even though in many cases longer time periods are needed to quantify all of the positive economic and social impacts.
The latest 10 research projects funded by the NCSEHE in 2016 provide insights into equity groups and/or equity issues in Australian higher education. In adding to our knowledge of the barriers and challenges to accessing and successfully completing higher education, the reports provide recommendations for policy makers and equity practitioners to create an environment more conducive to promoting equity across the higher education sector.
This year, for the first time in the Informing Policy and Practice series, the excellent work of the Equity Fellows Program is featured with an overview of the projects undertaken by the three inaugural 2016 Equity Fellows.
The Equity Fellows Program supports high-profile leadership projects, targeted sector-wide, with the goal of improving access, participation and success in higher education for students from disadvantaged backgrounds. Importantly, the Fellows spend time working in, and with, the Australian Government Department of Education and Training, facilitating mutually beneficial engagement between researchers, policy makers and equity practitioners.
The three inaugural Fellows are Dr Nadine Zacharias, Dr Erica Southgate and Dr Cathy Stone who undertook their year-long Fellowship programs in 2016. Their work will have a direct impact on education policy in Australia. Profiles of the Fellows and overviews of their important projects are provided in this report. Three more Equity Fellows have been awarded Fellowships for 2017 and we look forward to their work, adding to the leadership being developed in the equity sector across Australia.
Collectively, this research continues to bring evidence-based investigation to the development of equity policy and practice which will secure more opportunities for people from disadvantaged backgrounds and contribute to a better and fairer society.
We are proud to collate and promote this next series of reports and sincerely thank everyone for their efforts, as research accessed through NCSEHE is used to inform policy and practice to support equity students in their endeavours to complete higher education.
Continue reading the full publication here.