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You are reading: Investigating the relationship between equity and graduate outcomes in Australia

Australian higher education equity policy currently focuses on access and participation, with the implicit assumption being that disadvantage will be ameliorated through educational achievement. Less is known, however, as to whether patterns of disadvantage continue post-completion.

A new research project led by Dr Sarah Richardson, ACER, in collaboration with Curtin University’s Professor Dawn Bennett and Associate Professor Lynne Roberts, will investigate relationships between disadvantage and graduate outcomes in Australia.

Discussing the project, Dr Richardson said the research team would examine Commonwealth graduate outcome data derived from the 2013 Australian Graduate Survey.

“The intention of our research is to identify pertinent patterns that suggest that disadvantage is, or is not, mitigated by higher education completion. Our findings will be nuanced by different equity groups, field of education and location, enabling the identification of specific groups either achieving excellent graduate outcomes or facing challenges,” said Dr Richardson.

“The graduate outcomes we’re interested in include employment outcomes, such as type of employment, salary, location of employment and relevance to the degree attained. We’re also interested to know if these graduates have continued to study further.”

“It’s our goal to clarify some of the key determinants of graduate outcomes for equity groups. We hope that by identifying contextual factors that appear to be germane in shaping graduate outcomes that our research will contribute to measures that enhance disadvantaged students’ outcomes.”

Dr Richardson’s project is one of 12 funded via the NCSEHE’s 2015 Student Equity in Higher Education Research Grants Program. The project is scheduled to conclude in December 2015, after which time the final report will be made available here on the NCSEHE website.