StepUp to Curtin
Curtin recognises everyone should have the same opportunities to achieve their true academic potential regardless of their background
StepUp to Curtin is one of many equity initiatives at Curtin University funded by HEPPP working to break down the barriers to higher education. Curtin recognises everyone should have the same opportunities to achieve their true academic potential regardless of their background. StepUp addresses this gap by automatically identifying students from equity target groups and offering them the opportunity for admission into Curtin courses they may otherwise miss out on. StepUp then provides further assistance during the application and admission stage in areas proven to support academic achievement such as housing, scholarships and book grants.
Students who have the potential to succeed at university but who may have experienced adverse circumstances affecting their ability to reach Curtin’s required Australian Tertiary Admission Rank (ATAR) entry level are StepUp’s target group. Since 2010 and the introduction of the program, we have seen a five-fold increase of student offers, acceptance and retention. StepUp has also built partnerships and identified research gaps in reaching eligible students. Ongoing project evaluations have produced deeper understandings of the interaction between successful outcomes, seed funding and existing resources.
Enhancing Curtin’s former Principals Recommendation Program using HEPPP guidelines allowed Curtin to improve on existing relationships and increase community awareness of educational, financial and social opportunities for students from disadvantaged backgrounds. These changes are helping students to access and excel at Curtin, regardless of their background.
StepUp’s main objectives are:
- to create an inclusive entry pathway for eligible Australian, NZ, permanent and humanitarian resident applicants with a 60–69.95 ATAR
- to support the achievement of Curtin’s Student Equity Strategy 2010–2014 through participation that recognises and supports students from disadvantaged backgrounds with potential to excel in higher education.
The Social Inclusion Project Coordinator who coordinates StepUp has been fully funded by HEPPP since 2010, along with project costs allowing for outreach, access and retention schemes.
The success of StepUp is measured by the number of students enrolling through StepUp and their retention. From 2010 to 2013, 916 students were offered a place at Curtin through StepUp out of which 719 students accepted or deferred their offers. Curtin has since retained 80 per cent of students who gained entry through StepUp and 81 per cent of currently enrolled students are succeeding academically.
Since 2010 and the introduction of the program, we have seen a five-fold increase of student offers, acceptance and retention.
Research scoping to further expand the low socio-economic status criteria to reach a wider disadvantaged community has already begun. Curtin will continue to develop cross-platform and crosssector statistical methods to identify eligible students, partnership structures to increase school awareness of StepUp, and improve academic staff awareness and engagement with the project.
This case study is one of a series of 39 presented in our case study publication, Access and Participation in Higher Education: Outreach – Access – Support.