Higher Education Policy and Practice: Translating Student Equity Research

Year: 2017

Author: Brett, Matt, Pollard, Louise, Pollard, Kellie, Shalley, Fiona, Smith, James

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

The issues facing equity students are multi-faceted and effective policy and practice will come from an understanding of the situations students face and the impact of current policy in higher education and more broadly. Providing access to higher levels of education to people from all backgrounds enhances social inclusion and reduces social and economic disadvantage. In the interests of individuals and for the nation, higher education equity for all capable people must be seen as an objective of the system. Participating in higher education confers significant individual personal benefits in terms of personal development, career opportunities and lifetime learning. In addition, higher education is key to the social wellbeing and economic prosperity of Australia (NCSEHE, 2016).

In pursuing its objective of improving higher education participation and success for marginalised and disadvantaged people the Australian Government has funded through the National Centre for Student Equity in Higher Education (NCSEHE) six Equity Fellowships programme ($1.5million) over three years. The three 2017 Equity Fellows present the outcomes of their strategic, high-profile research activities to inform the development and refinement of government programs and policy from their year-long Fellowships are an opportunity to undertake strategic, high-impact, high?profile leadership projects targeted, sector-wide, at improving the access, participation and success in higher education of students from disadvantaged backgrounds. Each Fellowship included a placement at the Australia Government Department of Education and Training as a way of exchange but also leadership opportunities.

- Matt Brett is examining opportunities for more effective alignment, integration and prioritisation of student equity within higher education performance and accountability systems.
- Associate Professor James Smith has been exploring ways to strengthen evaluation in Indigenous higher education contexts in Australia.
- Louise Pollard has been exploring how students from remote Australia, can be more effectively supported to thrive and succeed at university.
The Equity Fellowships are an extraordinary opportunity for the Fellows to demonstrate leadership and contribute to closing some of the research gaps present in student equity in higher education. The research undertaken is disseminated at an annual NCSEHE-hosted Fellow's Forum, and disseminated via the NCSEHE website.