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: University responses to enhancing equity in the post-COVID landscape

Mary Teague1, Sally Baker1, Farhana Laffernis1, Katy Head1, Sonal Singh2, Carolina Morison3, Christine Johnston4, Jim Micsko4

2020 was a particularly challenging year for Australian higher education and student equity. The COVID-19 pandemic has had significant and far-reaching consequences for the higher education sector, and particularly impacted on students from equity cohorts. In addition to the initial impacts of the pandemic in 2020, the introduction of the Job Ready Graduates Package (JRGP) also had significant implications for universities in terms of responding to student equity. Given the widespread and deep impacts of these changes, it was timely to explore how universities responded to these challenges in terms of access and admissions, and participation and support for equity cohorts.
Using a mixed method, comparative approach, we sought to gain an understanding of the impacts of the pandemic by exploring how universities responded to equity considerations in 2020, specifically whether institutions developed admissions requirements and pathways, support services, and strategies to increase access for equity students into higher education. The project was designed to develop a broad national account of how universities responded to COVID in terms of equity in 2020, as well to develop more detailed accounts of the considerations and decision-making within institutions through:

  • A survey of equity practitioners across Australian universities.
  • Interviews with senior leaders who represent Australian university executive levels.
  • Development of institutional case studies, informed by interviews with university staff responsible for the implementation of their institution’s COVID response.

Read the full report: University responses to enhancing equity in the post-COVID landscape


1University of New South Wales
2University of Technology Sydney
3Macquarie University
4Western Sydney University