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You are reading: Australian-first Research Fellowship addresses perceived risks of university participation

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A high-profile 2018 Research Fellowship will address the relationship between perceived risk and university participation for disadvantaged students, in an era of increasing vocational uncertainty.

Associate Professor Maria Raciti (University of the Sunshine Coast) will be supported by the National Centre for Student Equity in Higher Education (NCSEHE) to conduct the project, aiming to seed new thinking and rethinking of widening participation praxis related to people from low socioeconomic status (SES) backgrounds.

“Perceived risks have been largely overlooked in the widening participation literature, yet are endemic in the decision to go to university,” said Associate Professor Raciti.

“The purpose of the Fellowship is to drill down into the role of perceived risks, and potentially identify new types of perceived risk prevalent for people from low SES backgrounds, which may include Indigenous Australians, people from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds and/or people with a disability.”

This appointment will incorporate a secondment with the Australian Government Department of Education and Training, during which time Associate Professor Raciti will forge valuable connections with widening participation decision-makers and exchange perspectives on student equity.

“Chiefly, I am hoping to determine interest in my Fellowship project—its timeliness, relevance and usefulness—and how this project can dovetail into current Department priorities,” said Associate Professor Raciti.

The NCSEHE is highly optimistic about the potential of this project to identify and address some of the perceived barriers to higher education for low SES students, according to Director Professor Sue Trinidad.

“This Fellowship targets a previously under-recognised issue, and will be conducted by an academic and researcher of the highest regard, with an extensive body of work laying the foundations for this project,” said Professor Trinidad.

Currently Associate Professor in Marketing in the School of Business, University of the Sunshine Coast, Maria Raciti was the first Indigenous PhD graduate from CQUniversity; the inaugural USC OLT citation recipient, the inaugural Associate Dean (Learning and Teaching) in the USC Faculty of Arts and Business and Principal Fellow of the Higher Education Academy (UK).

“I bring to the Fellowship not only my lived experience with widening participation, but professional expertise as an experienced researcher, accomplished teacher and engaged academic as well as a lot of passion,” said Associate Professor Raciti.

More information on the Research Fellowship project, How the perceived risks of going to university influence the decision by people from low SES backgrounds to participate in Australian higher education is available here.


Media contact:

Nina-Marie Thomas
Media and Communications Officer
National Centre for Student Equity in Higher Education
Tel | +61 8 9266 3721
Email | nina-marie.thomas@curtin.edu.au