Has the push to get more disadvantaged students into universities been a success?
Written by Dr Andrew Harvey for The Conversation
The Department of Education and Training has commissioned an evaluation of the Higher Education Participation and Partnerships Program (HEPPP), which helps to improve access to university for disadvantaged students – and also increase retention and completion rates of these students.
The evaluation will look at how effective the program has been, who’s benefited, what changes may be required and whether it provides good value for money.
Given the program is already scheduled for a $152 million funding cutfrom 2017, and given the rapid rise in higher education expenditure which has increase by 40% over the 11 years to 2013-14, many are nervous about the potential outcome.
What does HEPPP do?
HEPPP was introduced in 2010, alongside the demand-driven systemthat uncapped undergraduate places.
In 2016, A$155 million was distributed across the sector, according to low SES enrolments.
Western Sydney University received $11.5 million, for example, while Australian National University received just under $400,000.
Typically funds are used to broaden access and support existing students.
Outreach activities include university staff travelling to low-SES secondary schools to deliver workshops and masterclasses. School students also visit campuses and experiencing a day in the life of a university student.
For current students, universities also spend HEPPP funds on scholarships and bursaries, peer-mentoring programs, support services and learning analytics systems.