The Australian Centre for Student Equity and Success acknowledges Indigenous peoples as the Traditional Owners of the lands on which our campuses are situated. With a history spanning 60,000 years as the original educators, Indigenous peoples hold a unique place in Australia. We recognise the importance of their knowledge and culture, and reflect the principles of participation, equity, and cultural respect in our work. We pay our respects to Elders past, present, and future, and consider it an honour to learn from our Indigenous colleagues, partners, and friends.

You are reading: Grant recipients announced: Australasian Spotlight on Equity

Congratulations to the two recipients of the NCSEHE and Equity Practitioners in Higher Education Australasia (EPHEA) Australasian Spotlight on Equity: Grants for recognition of impact!

The NCSEHE and EPHEA have partnered to provide a grant that recognises the impact of equity practitioners and researchers. This recognition will take the form of an official commendation and sponsorship opportunity to continue their equity research and/or practice activities. The grants aim to:

  • raise awareness and the profile of equity programs and research at an institutional level;
  • provide an avenue for staff and student equity programs and equity researchers to receive grant funds to assist in maximising impact of their activities;
  • offer a funding source to provide equity practitioners the opportunity to disseminate their practice/research or undertake ongoing professional development nationally and internationally.

The grant recipients were announced at the EPHEA & NCSEHE World Access to Higher Education Day event.

— Career Success Program, RMIT University

Lisa Williams,  Katie Adler, Lisa Happell, Lisa White and Jonica Rooke

Students from underrepresented cohorts continue to experience unequal graduate employment outcomes and unique challenges to developing their employability. In the current context of the Covid-19 pandemic, these students are expected to be in an even more precarious situation within an increasingly uncertain and competitive graduate job market. RMIT’s Career Success program was established in 2018 to enhance the employability Graduate Capitals and resilience of over 7000 diverse students, including:

  • Students from low socioeconomic status backgrounds
  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students
  • Students from regional, rural & remote areas (added to program scope in 2022)
  • Students from humanitarian backgrounds (particularly students seeking asylum)

In response to evaluation of RMIT’s institutional engagement data, stakeholder feedback, focus groups and research, a proactive and ‘high-touch’ program has evolved since 2018 to include a dedicated suite of offerings tailored to these students’ career development needs. Student offerings include:

  • Ongoing career counselling & coaching tailored to each individual
  • ‘MyCareerKit’ intensive career development program
  • Access to selected assessment tools to identify strengths, explore careers and increase self-awareness
  • Financial assistance to enable participation in WIL placement/internship & work readiness activity
  • Timely and targeted notification of relevant internships, graduate roles and other work opportunities
  • Individual coaching from initial job application to final interview
  • A strengths-based approach to resume building, job search activities and interview skill development.

The grant funding will allow for ongoing professional development and the continuation of the program with added benefits such as provided meals to disadvantaged students.

More information about RMIT’s ‘MyCareerKit‘, here.

— The Experiences of Students from Asylum-Seeking backgrounds in Higher Education initiative, Monash University

Kristin Reimer, Jane Wilkinson, Karen Dunwoodie, Luke Macaulay, Mervi Kaukko and Susan Webb

A key equity group which has missed out on Australian higher education opportunities are people seeking asylum. This is due to federal government policies that classify them as international students, thus making the cost of university education prohibitive. Many universities are addressing these concerns by offering scholarships to people on temporary protection visas. However, little is known about these students’ experiences of getting in, getting through and beyond higher education. This qualitative, longitudinal program of research has been examining the experiences of scholarship-holding asylum seekers undertaking Australian university studies. The aim is to understand better the factors that support this group’s access to and full participation in higher education, including successfully completing their degrees.

The focus was on the students’ perceptions of their experiences rather than institutional comparisons. Yet following the students’ educational journeys for three years highlighted key institutional differences. It is through the breadth and depth of this research program that new knowledge about the university experiences of asylum-seeking students, as well as policy recommendations for universities and government can be offered.

The grant funding will enable continuing the program of research into a fourth wave – to examine the students’ completion of study and entry into work or further study. This would be significant since existing research focuses on getting into higher education, but not beyond. The findings, presented to universities and organisations that support people who are refugees and asylum-seekers, have the potential to impact future policy and practices that would benefit the sector as a whole.

Read the full article on the initiative, Widening University Access for Students of Asylum-Seeking Backgrounds: (Mis)recognition in an Australian Context.