Student Equity and Disability Services (SEADS)
The program provides assistance with study and living expenses to undergraduate students from LSES backgrounds or those experiencing significant financial disadvantage
The Student Equity and Disability Services (SEADS) Student Support program is one of Swinburne University’s social inclusion plan initiatives funded by the HEPPP. One of the key principles under the Social Inclusion Plan is to provide a range of services to support students within the university.
Key features of the program are:
- Funding of some equity-related scholarships awarded by Swinburne University. These scholarships include final year undergraduate scholarships, first year rural and regional scholarships, refugee or asylum seekers scholarships and TAFE pathways scholarships.
- SEADS awarding major grants and scholarships in first semester. These include rental assistance scholarships, laptop grants, iPad grants, mobile broadband grants and specialist software grants.
- Funding of small grants distributed via Housing and Finance Officers. These small grants are available throughout the year and include petrol vouchers, book vouchers, public transport grants, and one-off hardship grants.
The number and type of grants and scholarships available have increased since the program’s inception in 2010.
The main objective of the program is to increase the retention and completion of LSES students or those experiencing significant financial disadvantage through providing financial assistance in the form of grants and scholarships. Financial assistance is seen as critical in the retention and completion of students from LSES backgrounds or those experiencing significant financial disadvantage.
Activities and staffing costs associated with the SEADS Student Support Program have been HEPPP-funded since 2010.
The success of the program is reflected by the number of students assisted and their success, attrition and grade point average rates, in addition to a yearly online survey of grant/scholarship recipients.
Since 2010, 716 students have received a scholarship or grant under the SEADS Student Support program.
The average success rate of SEADS recipients was 3–5 points higher compared to the domestic higher education cohort, and 7–10 points higher compared to the LSES cohort.
Initial evaluation of the program via a yearly online survey found the grants and scholarships alleviated students’ financial pressure and stress, enabled students to have resources to undertake and complete course requirements, and gave them more time to devote to study.
Further evaluation of the program is being undertaken to determine if and how it is making a difference to the retention and completion of LSES students.
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