Maximising low socio-economic status students’ uptake of university places following deferral

Year: 2019

Author: Tomaszewski, Wojtek, Harvey, Andrew, Kubler, Matthias, Luckman, Michael

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

This paper will outline our research on the causes of university deferral and extended leave among low socio-economic status (SES) students, and the potential of universities to ensure successful returns to study. Over ten per cent of university applicants defer their place each year, and many subsequently do not enrol. In addition, thousands of university students each year take a leave of absence from which they do not return. Low SES students, along with regional and Indigenous students, are more likely to defer and take leave than other student groups, and our previous research suggests that low SES students are also less likely to return to study than other student groups.

The proposed paper will focus on the first stage of research undertaken, namely a quantitative analysis of data including that located in the higher education information management system (HEIMS). By examining low SES data relative to comparator groups, including the other equity groups, the project team explored the demographic (e.g. age, gender, location) and study (e.g. basis of admission, mode of attendance, field of study) characteristics that are correlated with deferral, leave, and return to study. A longitudinal analysis of HEIMS and related data was also employed to enable identification of policy and macro-economic factors that correlate with changes to national rates of deferral, leave, and return.

The evidence gathered provides insight into the causes of deferral/leave among low SES students, and suggests potential strategies by which universities can promote the return to study of these students. Commissioned by the Australian Government, the research involves a multi-university consortium and the paper will include initial findings and recommendations for universities and governments.