NCSEHE 2018 Annual Report
The National Centre for Student Equity in Higher Education (NCSEHE) has been successfully promoting equity in higher education from its base at Curtin University since June 2013 and as such, has been recognised by securing a contract from the Australian Government Department of Education and Training (DET) to continue its operations for a further three years.
This will deliver continuity and stability in providing national leadership in student equity in higher education—connecting research, policy and practice—to improve participation and success in higher education for marginalised and disadvantaged people.
The Centre has had another busy year managing and leading research projects, providing leadership in equity across the nation, and connecting and engaging with stakeholders through events and communications. These coordinated activities continue to support a uniting of the collective voice for equity in higher education, clarifying future research priorities, and supporting an evidence-based approach to securing the best educational outcomes for all individuals and Australian society.
The Centre is currently working with researchers on finalising and publishing the 13 reports from the 2017-18 round of the NCSEHE Research Grants Program, which will bring the total number of projects funded over the past four rounds to 47.
The NCSEHE also conducts additional research-based projects both independently and in collaboration with other organisations, funded through external grants or through Centre resources.
Major projects completed include: Widening regional and remote participation: Interrogating the impact of outreach programs across Queensland; The Building Legacy and Capacity/Student Equity 2030 project; Economies of scale in supporting low SES and other disadvantaged students; and several ongoing projects conducted under the NCSEHE Data Program.
An important development in student equity in higher education research was the NCSEHE’s completion of a commissioned project to make available the funded National Priorities Pool (NPP) research projects from 2014 to 2016 on the Centre’s website. Users are able to identify and engage with a broad range of content, using advanced search capabilities as well as navigate summaries and final NPP reports in accessible format.
2018 also saw the commencement of an Australian Government initiative to better prioritise student equity research; secure more efficiency in the research dollar spend; and achieve more effective research outcomes. The Equity Research and Innovation Panel was established with NCSEHE represented on the Panel as well as providing secretariat services.
Nurturing and facilitating the emergence of leaders in equity in higher education who create and inspire change is another critical function for the Centre. The highly successful Equity Fellows Program, which has produced six major system-wide research reports of national significance, has been evaluated and refunded to recommence in 2019.
Research excellence and leadership was also provided by the 2018 NCSEHE Research Fellow Dr Maria Raciti, who produced a significant research report, Career construction, future work and the perceived risks of going to university for young people from low SES backgrounds.
The Centre was also pleased to host the Australian hub conference for World Access to Higher Education Day (WAHED) on 28 November at Curtin University. The event attracted 138 delegates from across Australia, and concluded with a live link to launch the UK event at Aston University, Birmingham.
Conducted in partnership with the National Education Opportunities Network (NEON), the conference developed an international dimension to leadership. The overarching “student voice” theme was sustained by individual student speakers and a panel Chaired by Professor Sally Kift. The event also featured a keynote speech by Professor Glenn Withers, as well as talks from some of Australia’s most prominent equity researchers.
The year also saw the unfolding of the Student Equity 2030 project which united Australia’s leading advocates for student equity in higher education through discussion and debate on a long-term vision for the future. The outcome was a report and policy statement, The Best Chance For All, launched at WAHED and published in early 2019.
An important part of the Centre’s role is clarifying and prioritising the challenges and opportunities for equity in higher education by developing greater cohesion and consensus among stakeholders. Networked communications and events secure the basis for progressive change.
The Centre’s online metrics were all highly positive for 2018. The website attracted an average of almost 10,000 unique visitors per month for the calendar year 2018, featuring a total of 206 news items, publications, media releases and event listings. Twitter followers increased 35 per cent to 1,673 and 11 eNews editions were delivered to 2,022 subscribers, an increase of over 20 per cent from 2017.
The NCSEHE and staff produced a total of 48 publications including peer-reviewed journal articles, book chapters, research reports, conference papers, discussion papers, white papers and briefing notes.
Events organised or participated in by NCSEHE staff are also a significant opportunity for connecting stakeholders. NCSEHE staff gave 99 high-profile presentations both nationally and internationally. The Centre hosted a total of 16 NCSEHE public events (plus two panel events with invited experts) encompassing webinars, workshops, roundtables and feature presentations with an annual total of almost 400 recorded participants.
Over the coming three years, the NCSEHE will continue to provide a strong networking function between student equity policymakers, researchers and practitioners to improve outcomes in access, participation, retention, success and completion rates.
The priorities for the Centre to achieve improvements in education outcomes will continue to be: strengthening Australia’s student equity in higher education research quality, capability and capacity; supporting the building of a robust evidence base; informing institutional best practice and enhancing on-the-ground delivery of equity measures; and informing evidence-based public policy design and implementation.
We look forward to further collaborative work to secure improvements in educational outcomes for all students from disadvantaged backgrounds.
Professor Sue Trinidad
National Centre for Student Equity in Higher Education
National Centre for Student Equity in Higher Education: Annual Report 2018