Access and Participation

For: 

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.

Regional Education Package

On 12 November 2018, the Government announced $134.8 million over four years to provide students from rural and regional Australia with greater choice in, and access to higher education. The measures include:

  • $92.5 million over four years to support more students at five regionally focused universities over four years. This includes:
    • $40.7 million for Federation University Australia's Berwick campus (VIC)
    • $30.2 million for the Caboolture and Fraser Coast campuses of the University of the Sunshine Coast (QLD)
    • $3.3 million for the Central Coast Medical School and Research Institute of the University of Newcastle (NSW)
    • $9.1 million for Central Queensland University (QLD), and
    • $9.1 million for James Cook University (QLD). 
  • $34.1 million over four years to expand the Rural and Regional Enterprise Scholarships
  • $7.5 million over four years to expand the Regional Study Hubs, and
  • developing a national regional, rural and remote education strategy.

Rural and Regional Enterprise Scholarships

On 12 November 2018, the Government announced it will expand the Program, investing an extra $34.1 million to support an additional 1,955 Scholarships. This additional investment means that the Program will be able to increase the total number of Scholarships from 1,200 to 3,155.

The Scholarships provide up to $18,000 to support rural, regional and remote students to study Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM), including Health and Agricultural Science at Certificate IV to PhD level.

1555 scholarships are now available in Round two, for students commencing at the beginning of 2019. Round two is currently open for applications and closes on 14 December 2018. A further round with 1,100 scholarships will open in early 2019 for students studying in second semester 2019.

The Australian Government implemented the Rural and Regional Enterprise Scholarships to improve access to educational opportunities for regional students in 2018.

Regional Study Hubs

The Australian Government is investing $24.2 million over four years to assist in the establishment and operation of 16 community-owned, regional study hubs 22 sites across regional Australia. Regional Study Hubs (RSHs) will provide infrastructure such as study spaces, video conferencing, computing facilities and internet access, as well as academic support for students studying via distance at partner universities. 

On 12 November, the Minister for Education announced the successful grant recipients of the Regional Study Hubs program.

Background

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 equity@education.gov.au

The department considered submissions received through the stakeholder consultation on the discussion paper and where possible, incorporated feedback in the Application Guide. The Frequently Asked Questions document

Applications opened on Wednesday 30 May 2018 and closed on Friday 27 July 2018.

National Regional, Rural and Remote Education Strategy

Further acting on the recommendations of Emeritus Professor John Halsey's Independent Review into Regional, Rural and remote Education (the Halsey Review), the Australian Government will develop a National Regional, Rural and Remote Education Strategy to drive increased participation in post-secondary education.

An Expert Regional Education Advisory Group will be established to drive the strategy and advise Government on the ongoing education and training needs of regional communities.

The Advisory Group, to be chaired by the Hon Dr Denis Napthine, will also prepare a National Regional, Rural and Remote Education Report to Government on priority recommendations for action, including advice on the merits of establishing a Rural Education Commissioner to oversee implementation of the strategy.

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.

News

The following is a list of all the news items that are associated with Access and Participation.

Minister for Education announces Regional Education Package

News | 11 November 2018

On 12 November 2018, the Government announced $134.8 million over four years to provide students from rural and regional Australia with greater choice in, and access to higher education.

Minister for Education announces 16 Regional Study Hubs

News | 9 November 2018

The Australian Government is investing $24.2 million over four years to assist in the establishment and operation of 16 community-owned, regional study hubs 22 sites across regional Australia. Regional Study Hubs (RSHs) will provide infrastructure such as study spaces, video conferencing,...