The case studies below demonstrate how the Centre for Higher Education Equity and Diversity Research (CHEEDR; formerly known as The Access and Achievement Research Unit) is developing institutional strategies, evaluating La Trobe University programs and conducting institutional research.
In 2015, the Centre for Higher Education Equity and Diversity Research (CHEEDR) conducted institutional research related to equity participation within the La Trobe Essentials. The Centre also conducted externally funded research into employability and globalisation.
Drawing on this research the Centre identified that students from regional areas and low socio-economic status (SES) backgrounds are less likely to participate in work experience opportunities that are vital in improving graduate employability. Student employability is one of the strategic focus areas in La Trobe’s Future Ready Strategic Plan (La Trobe University, 2015), and was therefore recognised as an important issue to be addressed.
The Centre proposed implementing employability bursaries for disadvantaged students for 2015, valued at $2,000 per student.
This proposal was accepted and the Centre worked with the Colleges, Student Services, and the Academic Services Management Office to develop an employability bursary scheme for low socio-economic status students. The bursaries were launched in 2015.
The success of the bursaries has resulted in this program being funded by HEPPP in 2016 and 2017.
The Centre continues to conduct research into employability, and was awarded a National Priorities Pool research grant in 2016. The $76,000 project, titled 'Improving the employability of students from low socio-economic status backgrounds', 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.
Evaluation of School Partnerships Program
The School Partnerships Program (SPP) works collaboratively with specific disadvantaged schools to raise awareness of higher education and inform career aspiration by providing access to a range of activities that engage students and their school communities. Since 2011, biennial surveys of staff and students at the partner schools have been conducted to evaluate the program over time.
The most recent evaluation conducted by the Centre for Higher Education Equity and Diversity Research (CHEEDR) highlighted that student aspirations for university study at the participating schools have increased by a statistically significant amount over time – from 63.9% in 2011, to 69.9% in 2013, and to 73.4% in 2015. As well as presenting the statistical analysis of this data, the Centre provides insights into results based on its broader expertise related to equity in education.
The Centre's evaluation has informed program strategy to improve outcomes for both the targeted students and schools, and enrolment at La Trobe University.