The University of Newcastle, Australia

Comment from Professor Cameron

Tuesday, 17 May 2016

Professor Claire Cameron comments on her recent visit to the Centre of Excellence for Equity in Higher Education (CEEHE) at the University of Newcastle, Australia.

Professor Cameron delivering her public lecture

The Centre for Excellence in Equity in Higher Education (CEEHE) at University of Newcastle, Australia is an admirable, multidisciplinary Centre that seeks to widen participation to study at higher education levels.

Building on established practices, CEEHE is working on multiple fronts, including research, practice based evidence, networking and partnerships across the university and with NGOs and government agencies.

My visit was an opportunity to highlight educational opportunities for young people whose upbringing included foster care and residential care and to stimulate a new programme of research leading from the Live Learn Grow project, currently mid way through its first year.

At my public lecture I presented European research about post compulsory school pathways for young people from a public care background and argued that holistic multidimensional approaches are needed to enable this group's experience to more closely mirror that of the general population.

My impression of CEEHE was of a rare constellation of supportive factors at work, offering the opportunity to drive the research and practice agenda.

For young people in and from out of home care, there is a great need to know how better to tailor educational opportunities from the first day of state responsibility to higher education and beyond.

Action is needed both at the level of documenting young people's lives, over time, to better understand what their lives look like, compared to their age cohort, and at the level of professional awareness and skill development.

During my visit, which was impressively organised, considerable momentum was generated by bringing together practitioners, policy folk and NGOs.

One very promising idea which builds on international research findings is to develop a role of 'walking alongside' young people in their educational journey in a non-hierarchical and advocacy oriented way. I look forward to watching this model take shape.

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