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You are reading: NCSEHE & EPHEA event wrap-up: World Access to Higher Education Day Australasia #WAHED2021

The NCSEHE and Equity Practitioners in Higher Education Australasia (EPHEA) welcomed nearly 200 participants from Australia and New Zealand for World Access to Higher Education Day (WAHED) Australasia 2021.

This year’s event featured a keynote from Professor Maria Raciti (USC), who tackled the question, What’s the next step to help low SES students navigate perceived risk during these volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous times?

We also heard from a disability practitioner and student panel, discussing important accessibility considerations when returning to an on-campus learning model.

Following an overwhelming response in 2020, we were thrilled to celebrate our 2021 WAHED Champions for Change (more details below). Nearly 150 Champions were announced at this year’s WAHED event, recognising and celebrating their outstanding work in supporting students from disadvantaged backgrounds.

WAHED 2021 also marked the introduction of the Australasian Spotlight on Equity: Grants for recognition of impact (more details below). EPHEA and NCSEHE value the efforts of equity-focused researchers and practitioners across the sector and wish to support our colleagues to raise the profile of their work, as well as supporting their continued professional development. These grants reward the outstanding contributions of practitioners and researchers in delivering social justice, fairness and inclusion initiatives for both staff and students.

We would like to congratulate our 2021 grants recipients: Career Success Program, RMIT University and The Experiences of Students from Asylum-Seeking backgrounds in Higher Education initiative, Monash University.

— Event recording

Transcript (Word document)

— Event highlights

Welcome address

  • Graeme Atherton, NEON UK

Keynote — Navigating heightened risk among low SES students in VUCA times: What’s the next best step?

  • Professor Maria Raciti (USC)

There is no doubt that the pandemic has transformed higher education globally. Despite experiencing a paradigm shift of proportions unseen for decades, Australia’s widening participation (WP) community and its agenda remains resolute and committed to righting the wrongs of educational inequality. WP, however, is currently in the eye of the perfect storm. The perceived risk of going to university for students from low SES communities has been heightened during these VUCA times where Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity and Ambiguity make it challenging to predict career outcomes. Shifting course delivery models and looming future work scenarios also fuel these perceived risks. It would seem that now is the time for the WP community to come together, reset the compass, and ask the hard question: What’s the next best step?

Presentation slides:

Disability practitioner and student panel — Accessibility considerations when returning to an on-campus learning model

  • Anthony Gartner — Manager, AccessAbility, La Trobe University
  • Erica Schulz — Bachelor of Arts Student, La Trobe University
  • Darren Britten — National Assistive Technology Office, Australian Disability Clearinghouse on Education and Training (ADCET)
  • Yasmin Parsons — 2nd year Bachelor of Psychological Science – Bachelor of Social Science, University of Wollongong

Just as online learning due to COVID-19 has brought challenges and opportunities for students with disability, so too will the return to in-person delivery. In this expert panel, disability practitioners and students will discuss important accessibility considerations when returning to an on-campus learning model.

Awards and grants

  • Champions for Change
  • Australasian Spotlight on Equity: Grants for recognition of impact

— Program

— Champions for Change

The Champions for Change initiative was developed in 2020 to recognise and celebrate the dedication and outstanding work done by Australasian equity practitioners each and every day.

Over 150 nominees were recognised this year for going above and beyond to make the Australasian tertiary education landscape more inclusive and accessible for everyone. Congratulations to all of the 2021 Champions!

Read more about the 2021 nominees.

— Australasian Spotlight on Equity: Grants for recognition of impact

EPHEA and NCSEHE have partnered to provide grants that recognises the impact of equity practitioners and researchers. This recognition takes the form of an official commendation and sponsorship opportunity for those engaged in 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.

Read more about the successful projects.

— Speakers

Professor Maria Raciti is Director of the Indigenous and Transcultural Research Centre at USC. Maria uses marketing tools and techniques for the greater good — being the active pursuit of equity, social justice and betterment. Her main research areas are social marketing, services marketing and higher education. Maria is an Adjunct Fellow with the NCSEHE, was a 2018 NCSEHE Research Fellow, and was part of a 2019 Departmental Taskforce with the Australian Government Department of Education, Skills and Employment. Maria is a Principal Fellow of the Higher Education Academy (UK) and is co-leader of two research groups being the USC Indigenous Studies Research Theme and the USC Transcultural and Indigenous Pedagogies Research Group.

Anthony Gartner is a social worker with a commitment to access and inclusion for students who are often marginalised within higher education. With over twenty years’ experience in the community and education sector Anthony brings an understanding of the social model of health to his role as manager of the AccessAbility Hub at La Trobe University in Melbourne, and is supported by an amazing team of AccessAbility Advisors who are passionate and dedicated in their roles. Anthony is committed to achieving the best outcomes for students living with disability and for the professional development and resourcing of staff who undertake the important role of supporting students to access their unique abilities and succeed in their education.

Darren Britten has been involved in inclusive practice and accessible resource development in the tertiary sector for almost two decades and has a passion for technology and how information is delivered and accessed. He has been active in designing and developing learning objects for online learning, providing advice and training to academic staff around digital equity, and was instrumental in the establishment of the Inclusive Resources Development (IRD) team at La Trobe University. IRD provided best practice in the provision of accessible learning resources for students with print and hearing impairments and won several awards for student support including: ‘Making a Difference’ award from Vision Australia, an ‘Excellence in Transition Award’ from Pathways 9 and a La Trobe University Citation for Outstanding Contribution to Student Learning.


— About World Access to Higher Education Day (WAHED)

WAHED is an annual event, raising worldwide awareness around inequalities in access and success in higher education and acting as a catalyst for international, regional and local action.

The theme for 2021 was Equitable access and success through and post the pandemic.

More information about the global event is available on the WAHED website.