The University of Newcastle, Australia

Regional students to benefit from UON grant success

Monday, 17 October 2016

The University of Newcastle (UON) has been awarded six Higher Education Participation and Partnerships Program (HEPPP) National Priorities Pool (NPP) grants, to improve tertiary education pathways and success for students in regional and remote areas of Australia.

In an announcement made last week by the Australian Government Department of Education and Training, a total of 24 projects across 15 universities received funding to carry out equity projects.

Director of UON’s Centre of Excellence for Equity in Higher Education (CEEHE), Professor Penny Jane Burke, said the funding will help develop research, resources and outcomes to assist students living in remote areas.

“Access, participation and success in higher education of students located in regional and remote areas is still a significant and ongoing issue for universities and schools to address,” she said.

“This funding will be crucial to provide further insight into the approaches and resources required to support remote communities to successfully access and participate in higher education,” she added.

CEEHE plays an important role in supporting HEPPP NPP projects to ensure the outcomes are implemented and sustained beyond the funding timeframe.

This announcement builds on an impressive track record of HEPPP NPP success for UON and demonstrates the high calibre of research being carried in the field by leading academics.

Projects are expected to start in October 2016 and be completed by December 2017.

Snapshot of successful UON projects

Locating aspirations: Evidence to support participation in higher education of low SES students from regional and remote Australia.
Project Lead: Professor Jenny Gore
This project will bring insight into under-representation of regional and remote students in higher education by analysing existing data from more than 6000 school students from regional NSW and collecting additional survey, interview and focus group data from outer regional, remote and very remote areas in NSW. The project will help shape equity policy and practice to build student aspiration in regional and remote areas.


Early engagement - Tertiary success: Sustainability meets Statistics and STEM.
Project Lead: Dr Peter Howley
The project will work directly with students and teachers in low SES and regional/remote areas, delivering project-based learning activities in environmental sciences, statistics and STEM. It will use the interactions to develop and ultimately disseminate a set of digital media resources to low SES, culturally diverse and regional/remote students and schools.


Creative Industries Careers: Re-imagining Regional and Remote Students’ opportunities.
Project Lead: Dr Miranda Lawry
The project will support regional and remote high school students facing the prospect of decline in the traditional areas of farming, mining and manufacture to re-imagine their futures and aspire to work in Creative Industries. The project will provide students, their families, teachers and careers advisors with information about the skills needed to be successful, what Creative Industry jobs look like, and provide hands-on learning experiences to students through a series of creative workshops which use digital technologies like virtual reality, films and animation.


Mentoring women from regional Australia to realise their educational and career aspirations in business and law.
Project Lead: Kate Ramzan-Levy
This project will improve the participation, retention and success of women from regional areas and low SES backgrounds studying business and law by implementing an innovative mentoring program across four regional areas. It will provide female high school students with insight into university, and university students an opportunity to develop mentoring and leadership skills. The mentoring scheme will offer both high school and university students insight to the professional opportunities available to graduates. A Community of Practice will be created in each regional area and online mentoring program materials will be made available to all Australian university business and law schools.


Improving the ‘beaten track’: investigating alternative pathways to increase higher education participation for mature-aged low socio-economic status students in regional and remote Australia.
Project Lead: Dr Bronwyn Relf
This consortium project by three universities will examine ways to increase access to higher education for mature-aged regional and remote students from low SES backgrounds.  The project will explore the place of pathways such as low stakes, open access tertiary preparation and enabling programs in addressing the persistent gap in participation rates of mature-aged students.


Immersive virtual environment for improving the academic literacy and study skills of regional and remote low SES students.
Project Lead: Dr Shamus Smith
This project will deliver an immersive virtual environment to support the academic literacy and study skills of low SES university students from regional and remote areas (RRLSES). The project will use a participatory design process that engages directly with Indigenous students and non-Indigenous RRLSES students, and their university teaching staff to inform the development of an immersive virtual environment that is culturally and socially inclusive and directly responsive to the learning needs of RRLSES students.


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