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: NCSEHE 2015-16 Annual Report


In its third year of operation, the National Centre for Student Equity in Higher Education (NCSEHE) continues to provide strong national leadership in student equity in higher education, connecting practitioners, researchers and stakeholders. We are proud to promote evidence-based programs, policies, and practice, and engage in continuous quality improvement, enhancing the lives of students from disadvantaged backgrounds.

We know from the OECD Report (2015) that particular activities help to create greater equality of opportunities and growth in the long term:

  • promoting access to education, particularly for students from disadvantaged backgrounds;
  • improving job-related training and education, and access to formal education over the working life; and
  • facilitating access to jobs (and career prospects) for under-represented groups (especially youth and women).

Two major highlights for the NCSEHE over the past year include the production of a new publication and the selection of three inaugural Equity Fellows. Informing Policy and Practice: 2014 Student Equity in Higher Education Research Grants Program Projects, brings together the first 12 research reports funded via the NCSEHE’s Student Equity in Higher Education Research Grants Program. The publication was launched at the 2015 AARE Conference in Fremantle, Western Australia, and has been very well received.

The Equity Fellows Programme is an exciting initiative that will fund six National Fellows over the course of two years. The Fellows will work on equity-based research projects in collaboration with the Australian Government Department of Education and Training, the NCSEHE and various universities. Inaugural Fellows, Dr Erica Southgate, Dr Cathy Stone and Dr Nadine Zacharias are well on track to complete their Fellowships by the year’s end. The NCSEHE looks forward to sharing their work at a dedicated forum in November 2016.

An important objective of the NCSEHE concerns the timely generation and dissemination of news, and contemporary evidence and research in student equity in higher education. Our outreach and engagement metrics continue to reflect the impact the NCSEHE has made through our website,, receiving 103,402 visits from 50,476 unique visitors. Our eNews subscribers now number 1,127, and our Twitter followers now exceed 770 people and organisations, many from overseas.

As outlined in last year’s Annual Report, Progress Report 4 for the Australian Government Department of Education and Training, the NCSEHE’s Operational and Research Business Plan, and a number of Director’s Reports provided to our high profile Advisory Board, the NCSEHE has:

  • continued its strong performance, meeting all KPIs required to honour its contract with the Australian Government;
  • as a part of the NCSEHE’s Conditions of Grant, the Centre has now funded 24 external competitive research grants, committing more than $1.08 million to further inter-sectoral research;
  • completed work on the Equity Performance Framework for Australian Higher Education for the Australian Government Department of Education and Training;
  • completed additional research projects awarded in 2015 via the Australian Government’s Higher Education Participation and Partnerships Programme (HEPPP) funded National Priorities Pool initiative, of which funding of $1.72 million was granted;
  • continued to enhance the NCSEHE’s visibility and brand recognition with internal and external stakeholders, including awareness of the Centre nationally and internationally;
  • published and disseminated new research findings both on the web and in reports with the aim of a more fully informed and better-equipped sector;
  • continued providing supervision for two high-quality Doctoral students currently completing their studies full-time within the NCSEHE; and
  • continued to collaborate with internal and external research staff and visiting fellows, along with important stakeholders.

Outputs generated by the NCSEHE during the 2015-16 reporting period include:

  • 54 publications, including the research publication, Informing Policy and Practice;
  • 21 eNews editions, available online at;
  • 7 online editorials;
  • 23 conference papers and keynote presentations at a number of high-profile national events such as the Albury-Wodonga Forum on Regional and Rural Higher Education at La Trobe University; the Student Recruitment and Retention Forum in Sydney and the Strategies for Student Retention Conference at Victoria University; the Engagement at the Interface: Indigenous Pathways & Transitions into Higher Education Forum at Charles Darwin University; the Equity Practitioners in Higher Education Australasia (EPHEA) Conference at Deakin University; and the Australian Association for Research in Education (AARE) Conference in Fremantle; and
  • 10 Curtin University-based presentations given by NCSEHE staff and visiting Fellows, both national and international. Each presentation attracts on average 30 guests, for a total of just over 300 total participants, nationwide.

On 18 June 2015, the NCSEHE’s website was archived by the National Library of Australia (Pandora), underscoring its value and contribution to Australia’s knowledge-base.

Once again, our achievements illustrate the breadth and depth of a wide range of initiatives undertaken by the NCSEHE that combine to drive positive change in the education sector to improve equity and access in higher education for people from disadvantaged backgrounds.

As the NCSEHE continues to build links with stakeholders – including academic researchers, policy analysts in government and education, and equity practitioners – it acts as a catalyst for connecting and disseminating research and information aimed at building a more equitable education system. While the majority of our effort remains focussed on the Australian education sector, we also engage directly with respected overseas research organisations. These strategic relationships enable us to incorporate news on international best practice into our reports and communications with our stakeholders.

We value our connections with universities and related educational institutions and will continue to inform programs and policies in ways that make them more efficient and effective in maximising the engagement of equity students in higher education. Similarly, we will continue to fund research projects that shape progressive change in higher education, using our links with the academic research community to aid us in identifying equity research gaps. Most importantly, we will continue to strengthen our valued relationships with equity practitioners, leveraging their knowledge to assist everyone in building a more equitable education sector.

Professor Sue Trinidad
National Centre for Student Equity in Higher Education

NCSEHE 2015-16 Annual Report (14Mb)

Featured publications
A case study documenting the transition of one Indigenous student, Robbie, from an underprivileged school located in the Western suburbs of Sydney to an urban Australian university.
The Critical Interventions Framework Part 3 (CIF 3) focuses on evaluative studies which provide details of the impacts of specific interventions on equity groups in relation to access to and success in higher education.