Access and Participation


The department is working to ensure that all people with the desire and capability to attend university have the opportunity to do so, and succeed in their studies, regardless of their background.

The department administers several programs and initiatives to support student access and participation in higher education in Australia.

Higher Education Participation and Partnerships Program (HEPPP)

The Higher Education Participation and Partnerships Program (HEPPP) aims to ensure that Australians from low SES backgrounds who have the ability to study at university have the opportunity to do so. It provides funding to assist universities listed in Table A of the Higher Education Support Act 2003 to undertake activities and implement strategies that improve access to undergraduate courses for people from low SES backgrounds, as well as improving the retention and completion rates of those students.

Rural and Regional Enterprise Scholarships

The Australian Government introduced new scholarships as part of its policy package to improve access to educational opportunities for regional students. Rural and Regional Enterprise Scholarships will support 1200 regional and remote students to undertake STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) studies. The scholarships are for vocational education, undergraduate and postgraduate students (Certificate IV to PhD) and valued at up to $18,000 each.

Regional Study Hubs

The Australian Government has committed $16.7 million over 2018–19 to 2021–22 to assist in the establishment and operation of up to eight community-owned, regional study hubs across regional Australia. Regional Study Hubs (RSHs) will provide infrastructure such as study spaces, video conferencing, computing facilities and internet access, as well as pastoral and academic support for students studying via distance at partner universities. 

The department released a discussion paper on the implementation of the Regional Study Hubs on Friday 16 February 2018 inviting interested stakeholders to send their feedback on the proposed criteria to assess successful applicants by emailing

The department considered submissions received through the stakeholder consultation on the discussion paper and is now inviting applications, with a closing date as at 5:00 pm AEST on Friday 27 July 2018.

The department published an Application Guide in May 2018, with guidance on the application process.

The department has released a Frequently Asked Questions document, which provides further clarification and guidance on the eligibility and assessment process for interested stakeholders. This document is developed in response to the most commonly asked questions from the stakeholders since the release of the Application Guide in late May 2018.

Higher Education Disability Support Program

The Disability Support Program provides funding to universities to undertake activities that assist in removing barriers to access and participation in higher education for students with disabilities.

The program was evaluated in 2014-15 by KPMG. The evaluation findings are supportive of the program and make suggestions for its ongoing operation. The Australian Government is currently considering its response to the report.

The program assists in providing educational support and/or equipment to domestic students with disability with high cost needs. Funding is also provided to encourage providers to implement strategies to attract and support students with disabilities.

The DSP provides funding for the Australian Disability Clearinghouse on Education and Training (ADCET) website. The site provides information and other resources designed to promote inclusive teaching and learning practices for people with disability.

National Disability Coordination Officer Program

The National Disability Coordination Officer (NDCO) Program supports a network of regionally based officers to work strategically to assist people with disability access and participate in tertiary education and subsequent employment.

As part of a national network, NDCOs work at the local level to assist working age people aged between 15-64 with a disability who may wish to succeed in post school education, training and employment. NDCOs do this by working with education professionals, employers, the community and others to:

  • facilitate smooth transitions from school, to tertiary education and employment
  • address systemic barriers and gaps in support for people with disabilities in accessing and participating in tertiary education and employment
  • enhance inclusive practices and increase accessibility in tertiary education and employment for people with disabilities
  • increase awareness of people with disability about their post-school options and supports so they can participate in education and subsequent employment to the same extent as people without disabilities.

The National Centre for Student Equity in Higher Education

The National Centre for Student Equity in Higher Education (NCSEHE) is funded by the department and hosted by Curtin University. NCSEHE's purpose is to inform public policy design and implementation, and institutional practice, in order to improve higher education participation and success for marginalised and disadvantaged people.

For more information go to the National Centre for Student Equity in Higher Education website.