National Priorities Pool

La Trobe's successful National Priorities Pool projects are:

Student equity and employability in higher education

The $76,000 project was led by La Trobe and included Dr Andrew Harvey and Lisa Andrewartha. The Australian Council for Educational Research (ACER), Manchester Metropolitan University, United Kingdom, and the University of Michigan, United States, were the other partner institutions.

Employability is now central to Australian university curricula. Student tuition and debt levels are rising, student enrolments are expanding rapidly, and the graduate wage premium is declining. These developments are motivating universities to embed employability through expanded clinical and industry placements, work-integrated learning, careers services, and extra-curricular activities. Students from low socio-economic backgrounds typically have lower rates of participation in these activities. This project investigated how institutions can ensure their strategies are accessible and relevant to diverse student cohorts, particularly students from low socio-economic status backgrounds.

Read the final report

Recruiting and supporting care leavers in Australian higher education

The $127,000 project was led by La Trobe and included Dr Andrew Harvey and Lisa Andrewartha. Federation University Australia, Western Sydney University and Queensland University of Technology were the other partner institutions on this project.

The project developed resources to help universities attract and support care leavers - people who have spent time in foster care, kinship care, and other types of out-of-home care. Care leavers are disproportionately likely to be from low socio-economic status backgrounds, and have very high rates of homelessness, unemployment, and dependence on Centrelink. Original evidence was collected through interviews with care leaver students at the four institutions, and in consultation with community sector organisations. The project  developed: agreed methods to collect and monitor care leaver data across the four institutions; a university handbook for care leaver students; and guidelines for university staff to deliver more effective outreach and support to care leavers.

Read the final report

The re-recruitment of students who have withdrawn from Australian higher education

The $34,000 project was led by La Trobe and included Dr Andrew Harvey, Giovanna Szalkowicz and Michael Luckman.

This project analysed factors that encourage low socio-economic status (SES) students to return to higher education, having previously withdrawn from higher education. The report outlines the extent to which students from low socio-economic status backgrounds were withdrawing from higher education study but returning to the sector at a later date; explores discontinuing low socio-economic status students’ motivations for leaving, and the factors affecting their re-enrolment; and contributes new insights to inform policies and strategies around communications and marketing, language, scaffolding of qualifications and recognition of prior learning, designed to support students to re-enrol in, and re-engage with, higher education.

Read the final report

Raising participation of new migrant groups in low SES and regional communities

The $144,460 project will be led by Dr Andrew Harvey, Director of the Centre for Higher Education Equity and Diversity Research, and Dr Anthony Moran, Senior Lecturer at La Trobe.

The project will explore the university aspirations and experiences of new migrants in low socio-economic status, regional communities, and the extent to which regional campuses support ethnic, socio-economic and religious diversity. The project will focus on Shepparton and Mildura, two Victorian communities with high numbers of low socio-economic status, new migrants. University participation of new migrant groups is often low, which affects civic participation, campus diversity, economic productivity, and community wellbeing. The project will help universities to develop more tailored equity, outreach, recruitment and pathway models, and more inclusive campus environments for all students.

The Adaptation of Tertiary Admissions Practices to Growth and Diversity

The $351,804 project was led by La Trobe and includes Dr Andrew Harvey, A/Prof Buly Cardak, and Matt Brett. University of New England was the other partner institution on this project.

This project examined tertiary admissions equity practices in response to changes in participation, institutional diversity and competition. Changes to tertiary selection practices around special entry schemes, bonus point mechanisms, and ATAR cut-off transparency were identified. The improved evidence base around admissions practices will inform policy design at national, state and institutional level.

Read the final report

Globalization opportunities for low socio-economic and regional students

The $245,000 project was led by La Trobe and included Dr Andrew Harvey and Matt Brett. The University of Queensland was the other partner institution on this project.

Globalisation is embedded in the mission of most Australian universities. Foreign language study and outbound mobility are central to the student experience of globalisation. Students from the lowest socio-economic quartile (LSES) are less likely to enrol in a language unit, and less likely to travel internationally for study or internships. This project: mapped the geo-demographics of outbound mobility and foreign language student cohorts; identified barriers to participation for LSES and regional students; and identified institutional programs that facilitate global experiences for these students.

Read the final report

Critical Interventions Framework, Part 2: Equity Initiatives in Australian Higher Education: A Review of Evidence of Impact

The University of Newcastle was the lead on the $205,262 project, and La Trobe and the University of Melbourne were the other partner universities. La Trobe was represented by Dr Andrew Harvey and Matt Brett.

The project extended the Critical Interventions Framework for Advancing Equity in Australian Higher Education by Naylor, Baik and James (2013), and provided a comprehensive range of interventions to university providers in order to engage and enable students from disadvantaged backgrounds to successfully complete their courses and to prepare for graduate employment.

Read the final report

Enabling programmes for disadvantaged groups

The National Centre for Student Equity in Higher Education (NCSEHE) was the lead on the $155,785 project, and La Trobe and Federation University of Australia were the other partner universities. La Trobe was represented by Dr Andrew Harvey and Matt Brett.

The project constructed a detailed taxonomy of enabling pathways into higher education; undertook a detailed trend analysis of all these pathways to determine which pathways are the most commonly used and whether or not certain pathways are preferred by certain higher education institutions and/or equity student groups; identified which of these pathways appear to be the most effective, in terms of articulation to undergraduate level and subsequent first-year student success and retention; established the understandings of these students, and reasons for enrolling in, enabling programs; and compared these findings against those of students utilising other sub-bachelor pathways (e.g. diplomas).

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A comparative evaluation of the efficacy of the equity strategies employed by Australian universities

The $156,686 project was led by Central Queensland University in partnership with Federation University of Australia, University of the Sunshine Coast, University of Newcastle, La Trobe University and James Cook University. La Trobe was represented by Dr Andrew Harvey.

The aim of the project was to examine the efficacy of equity strategies employed at Australian universities which are aimed at improving opportunities and the success in higher education by people from low socio-economic status (SES) backgrounds. The project  conducted a comparative evaluation of the efficacy of the approaches each partner university employs to guide the prioritisation, management and evaluation of the outcomes of initiatives aimed at increasing access, participation and outcomes for people from disadvantaged backgrounds, and how they act on the findings from evaluation to plan future equity-related policy, initiatives and services.