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You are reading: Curtin Corner: Supporting the Aspirations of Low-SES Students to Attend University

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Challenges of Education Systems, School Cultures and Student Attainment

Hosted by the John Curtin Institute of Public Policy and the National Centre for Student Equity in Higher Education (NCSEHE), this presentation outlines the national, state and local contexts of an Australian project designed to build and support aspirations of students in low SES high schools to encourage greater university participation. Federal Government policies 2006-2012 were designed to grow participation of low SES students and these policies drove funded projects to support universities and schools to encourage aspirations and grow university enrolments. Unlike other aspiration initiatives, Murdoch’s Aspirations and Pathways For University (MAP4U) project was conceived as applied research, not program evaluation, with high accountability for schools through mutually developed KPIs and a commitment to co-invest in programs. Findings indicate aspirations for tertiary study are high however students were confronted by system inhibitors, conflicting school attainment goals and restrictive procedures.


Professor Andrew Taggart
Professor Andrew Taggart is currently Provost of Murdoch University and provides senior level support for domestic student recruitment and leads local, regional and national engagement. With special focus on the Perth’s Southern Corridor, Professor Taggart has led the recruitment of ‘low SES/First in Family’ students to attend university and the development of partnerships with all schools in the region. Of particular significance is his leadership in the MAP4U social inclusion in education project – with over $5million in funding for increasing educational participation and attainment. Professor Taggart received his PhD in Education from Ohio State University and has previously held the positions of Acting Vice Chancellor and Pro Vice Chancellor Engagement at Murdoch University. Professor Taggart has also held senior positions at Edith Cowan University, Curtin University, and The Ohio State University.

Dr Lynette Vernon
Dr. Lynette Vernon has been, for the past four years, Project Manager for MAP4U – Murdoch’s Aspirations and Pathways for University program which aimed to widen access and improve participation in higher education. Lyn is currently a research fellow with the National Centre for Student Equity in Higher Education and with Murdoch University. Lyn has a Bachelor of Science from UWA and Diploma in Education from Edith Cowan University. She has taught Science for the Department of Education for over 20 years, and while teaching completed her Graduate Diploma in Psychology at Charles Sturt University. In 2009 Lyn completed her Honours in Psychology at Murdoch University. Her Doctor of Philosophy is in Psychology leading to research interests in the developmental implications for adolescent problematic technology use leading to poorer mental health and reduced school experiences through poor quality sleep.

View the presentation PowerPoint here.