by NADINE ZACHARIAS and SONAL SINGH

The Higher Education Participation and Partnership Program (HEPPP) was introduced in 2010 to boost university participation of domestic undergraduate students from a low SES (LSES) background by allocating dedicated equity funding to public universities. More recently, the 2020 Job-ready Graduates Act has introduced significant changes to equity policy and practice in Australian higher education.

The implementation of the Indigenous Regional and Low SES Attainment Fund (IRLSAF), which includes the HEPPP as well as Regional Loading and Enabling Loading, is reshaping the funding of and approach to student equity work in Australian universities. From 2021, the HEPPP allocation formula is gradually being changed to include a university’s share of domestic undergraduate students from regional and remote areas and Indigenous students, in addition to its traditional target group of LSES students.

Moreover, in 2021, the Department commissioned the University of Queensland’s Institute for Social Science Research to co-design the Student Equity in Higher Education Evaluation Framework (SEHEEF), in collaboration with the Queensland Widening Participation Consortium and in consultation with the sector. The SEHEEF’s Final Report and Guidance Manual were released earlier this year. The development of the SEHEEF was a key recommendation of the 2017 ACIL Allen Evaluation of the HEPPP. Its implementation will guide both institutional and national evaluation of HEPPP-funded programs and activities to increase our collective understanding of the contribution and attribution of HEPPP-funded initiatives to educational equity.

The expectations of institutional-level evaluation articulated in the SEHEEF include continuous quality improvement and impact evaluations. The Framework’s proposed tools for standardised planning, data collection and reporting impose a new level of requirements on universities to design and implement sophisticated activity and program evaluations. The preparedness and capability of individual institutions and the sector more broadly to deliver on these expectations is yet to be established.

On Wednesday 22 June, the Student Equity Network of the 2022 STARS Conference will provide a collegiate forum to explore these questions. Insights generated during the session are envisaged to be developed into recommendations for the Equity Practitioners in Higher Education Australasia (EPHEA) to raise with the Department as it moves towards the SEHEEF’s implementation and its further socialisation across the sector.

 

Associate Professor Nadine Zacharias, Director, Swinburne Student Life (acting), Swinburne University of Technology nzacharias@swin.edu.au @ZachariasNadine

Ms Sonal Singh, Executive Manager Student Equity, University of Technology Sydney sonal.singh@uts.edu.au @SonalSingh2

The Higher Education Participation and Partnership Program (HEPPP) was introduced in 2010 to boost university participation of domestic undergraduate students from a low SES (LSES) background by allocating dedicated equity funding to public universities. More recently, the 2020 Job-ready Graduates Act has introduced significant changes to equity policy and practice in Australian higher education.

The implementation of the Indigenous Regional and Low SES Attainment Fund (IRLSAF), which includes the HEPPP as well as Regional Loading and Enabling Loading, is reshaping the funding of and approach to student equity work in Australian universities. From 2021, the HEPPP allocation formula is gradually being changed to include a university’s share of domestic undergraduate students from regional and remote areas and Indigenous students, in addition to its traditional target group of LSES students.

Moreover, in 2021, the Department commissioned the University of Queensland’s Institute for Social Science Research to co-design the Student Equity in Higher Education Evaluation Framework (SEHEEF), in collaboration with the Queensland Widening Participation Consortium and in consultation with the sector. The SEHEEF’s Final Report and Guidance Manual were released earlier this year. The development of the SEHEEF was a key recommendation of the 2017 ACIL Allen Evaluation of the HEPPP. Its implementation will guide both institutional and national evaluation of HEPPP-funded programs and activities to increase our collective understanding of the contribution and attribution of HEPPP-funded initiatives to educational equity.

The expectations of institutional-level evaluation articulated in the SEHEEF include continuous quality improvement and impact evaluations. The Framework’s proposed tools for standardised planning, data collection and reporting impose a new level of requirements on universities to design and implement sophisticated activity and program evaluations. The preparedness and capability of individual institutions and the sector more broadly to deliver on these expectations is yet to be established.

On Wednesday 22 June, the Student Equity Network of the 2022 STARS Conference will provide a collegiate forum to explore these questions. Insights generated during the session are envisaged to be developed into recommendations for the Equity Practitioners in Higher Education Australasia (EPHEA) to raise with the Department as it moves towards the SEHEEF’s implementation and its further socialisation across the sector.

 

Associate Professor Nadine Zacharias, Director, Swinburne Student Life (acting), Swinburne University of Technology nzacharias@swin.edu.au @ZachariasNadine

Ms Sonal Singh, Executive Manager Student Equity, University of Technology Sydney sonal.singh@uts.edu.au @SonalSingh2


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