NCSEHE Focus — The National Priorities Pool Program: Past trends and future opportunities
Type of Publication: NCSEHE publication
Lead Organisation: NCSEHE
Year Published: 2019
Lead Researcher: NCSEHE
In 2017–18, the NCSEHE was commissioned by the Department of Education (“the Department”) to deliver a web resource providing open access to a diverse collection of National Priorities Pool (NPP) research and projects.
Projects conducted under the NPP (a component of the HEPPP, funded by the Department) were published to the online database located on the NCSEHE website, initially spanning the 2014–16 funding rounds.
Users are able to identify and engage with a broad range of content, from research reports to widening participation programs, using advanced search and filtering capabilities as well as easy to navigate summaries and final reports in accessible format.
This NCSEHE Focus report examines:
- the NPP program
- characteristics of the NPP projects
- development and effectiveness of NPP projects
- lessons learned from the NPP projects
- NPP projects 2014–16 in summary
- the future: the developing policy and program environment
- Department initiatives and 2018 NPP projects
- NCSEHE initiatives.
The National Priorities Pool program
The Australian higher education sector saw a major development in 2010 when two significant policy changes were announced. The deregulated demand-driven system was expanded (following partial deregulation in 2008) which uncapped the number of undergraduate places on offer; and, accompanying that initiative, the Higher Education Participation and Partnerships Program (HEPPP) was introduced to increase the access, retention and completion rates of the anticipated surge in student numbers.
The HEPPP consists of three components, each with specific funding arrangements:
- A participation component — aimed at supporting the attraction and participation of undergraduate students from low socioeconomic status (SES) backgrounds.
- A partnership component — aimed at increasing the number of people from low SES backgrounds to participate in higher education through outreach and similar programs.
- The NPP — funds projects that support equity in these priority areas:
- building the evidence base
- fostering innovation
- improving the effectiveness and efficiency of program delivery.
NPP research projects from 2014–16 were focused on their key objective of supporting people from disadvantaged backgrounds, primarily low SES backgrounds, to access and succeed in higher education.
The prime equity groups cited were low SES and regional/remote, followed by Indigenous. Key focus areas were outreach and enabling programs to attract and retain students from disadvantaged backgrounds to higher education.