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: Briefing Note: Student Equity Performance in Australian Higher Education: 2008 to 2015

Briefing Note written by Paul Koshy, National Centre for Student Equity in Higher Education (NCSEHE)


This NCSEHE Briefing Note provides an update on domestic undergraduate student enrolment and equity outcomes from 2008 to 2015, following Koshy and Seymour (2015). In keeping with the earlier editions of this series, the briefing note focuses on undergraduate outcomes for Table A providers. It provides a guide to trends across equity groups during this period, which included substantial changes to Australian higher education, including the introduction of the demand driven system for enrolments and the Higher Education Participation and Partnerships Programme (HEPPP) to support low SES undergraduate enrolments.

The briefing note reports domestic undergraduate enrolments between 2008 and 2015 in the 38 ‘Table A providers’ in Australian higher education and enrolments in seven equity groups:

  • Low Socio-Economic Status (‘low SES’) students;
  • Students with Disability;
  • Indigenous Students;
  • Women in Non-Traditional Areas (WINTA);
  • Regional Students;
  • Remote Students; and
  • Non-English Speaking Background (NESB) students (also referred to as ‘Culturally and Linguistically Diverse’ or ‘CALD’ students).

The reported statistics for each equity group are comparable with previous releases, with the exception of WINTA enrolment shares, which were previously calculated on the basis of total university enrolment but are now reported as a share of total enrolment in the WINTA fields of education.

In addition, in the case of three indicators – low SES, regional students, and remote students – the note reports historic measures for participation for the period 2008 to 2015. The measures since 2011 are the SEIFA classification of SA1 areas for low SES status, which replaces the SEIFA postcode measure, and the Australian Statistical Geography Standard (ASGS) classification for regional and remote areas which replaces the classification developed by the Ministerial Council on Education, Employment, Training and Youth Affairs (MCEETYA). It is envisaged that these measures will be the central focus of reporting on participation among students in these equity groups in the future. This note includes reporting of the SA1 measure for low SES status.

In each equity group, results are reported for the national system in total, by institutional groupings, by state and territory, and by regional or metropolitan status, for each year. All reporting is for domestic undergraduates in each given year. The institutional groupings (Table A only) in 2015 were as follows:

  • The Group of Eight: Australian National University (ANU), Melbourne, Monash, Sydney, New South Wales (UNSW), Queensland (UQ), Western Australia (UWA), and Adelaide.
  • The Australian Technology Network (ATN): Curtin University, University of Technology, Sydney (UTS), RMIT University (RMIT), Queensland University of Technology (QUT), and University of South Australia (UniSA).
  • The Innovative Research Universities (IRU): Murdoch, Flinders, Griffith, James Cook (JCU), La Trobe, Charles Darwin University (CDU) and Newcastle. (Newcastle left the IRU in December 2014, but is still reported with IRU in 2015 here, for the purpose of comparability. Next year’s report will reflect this change fully).
  • Regional Universities Network (RUN): Southern Cross, New England (UNE), Federation, Sunshine Coast (USC), CQUniversity Australia (CQU), and Southern Queensland (USQ).
  • The Unaligned Universities (Other Table A providers): Macquarie, Wollongong, Deakin, Charles Sturt (CSU), Tasmania, Australian Catholic University (ACU), Canberra, Edith Cowan University (ECU), Swinburne, Victoria, Western Sydney (WSU) and The Batchelor Institute (Batchelor) (Note: Batchelor and CDU entered into a collaborative partnership in 2012 which has seen CDU take delivery of most undergraduate programs.)

In addition, an analysis is reported for universities on the basis of their campus location and infrastructure:

  •  Regionally Headquartered: Institutions headquartered in the regions – USC, Southern Cross, UNE, Federation, CQU, JCU, USQ, Tasmania, CDU, and Batchelor.
  • Metropolitan Institutions with Regional Campuses: Institutions with one or more regional campus – Newcastle, Sydney, Wollongong, Deakin, La Trobe, Melbourne, QUT, UQ, CSU, Curtin, ECU, Murdoch, UWA, Flinders, Adelaide, UniSA, and ACU.
  • No Regional Campus: Metropolitan institutions with no regional campus: ANU, UNSW, Griffith, Macquarie, Canberra, Swinburne, Victoria, RMIT,  Monash (transferred Gippsland to Federation in January 2014), and WSU.

It should be noted that two universities – RMIT and Monash – have now moved classification from “Metropolitan Institutions with Regional Campuses” to “No Regional Campus” from 2014 onwards.

All student data reported or derived for the purposes of this document are sourced from Students: Selected Higher Education Statistics 2015 (Appendix 2: Equity Data), published by the Australian Government Department of Education and Training (2016).

Continue reading: Student Equity Performance in Australian Higher Education – 2008 to 2015 (262Kb)

Koshy, P. (2016). Student Equity Performance in Australian Higher Education: 2008 to 2015. National Centre for Student Equity in Higher Education (NCSEHE), Perth: Curtin University.