The University of Newcastle, Australia

Equity Fellowship success for UON academics

Thursday, 4 February 2016

Almost half a million dollars in funding has been awarded to two academics from the University of Newcastle (UON) to investigate solutions to major equity challenges in higher education, in a national first Equity Fellowship programme.

Dr Erica Southgate and Dr Cathy Stone

Dr Erica Southgate and Dr Cathy Stone, with support from UON's Centre of Excellence for Equity in Higher Education (CEEHE), have each secured one of three prestigious Equity Fellowships from the National Centre for Student Equity in Higher Education (NCSEHE).

The NCSEHE Equity Fellows Programme will support the fellows in 2016 to undertake leadership projects with the aim of improving the access, participation and success of students from diverse backgrounds in higher education.

Vice-Chancellor of the University of Newcastle, Professor Caroline McMillen, said the Fellowships are evidence of the world-class research taking place within UON on equity.

"We are proud of the outstanding work underway at the Centre of Excellence for Equity in Higher Education. The Centre was established to conduct research and identify solutions to ensure higher education is accessible to every talented member of our community.

"It is an outstanding achievement for two of the three national Equity Fellowships this year to be awarded to staff from UON, and demonstrates the quality and importance of our research in informing practice nationally and globally," said Professor McMillen.

The University of Newcastle has a long-standing commitment to equity in higher education, and a sector-leading record of achievement in building access and success among students from all walks of life. The University currently enrols double the national average of students from disadvantaged backgrounds.

Director and Program Leader of NCSEHE, Professor Sue Trinidad, has recognised the importance of the Fellowships to increase participation in higher education.

"Higher education is key to people from disadvantaged backgrounds achieving their potential. While progress has been made, there is more to be done. I congratulate Dr Southgate and Dr Stone on their Fellowships and look forward to working with them in 2016," said Professor Trinidad.

Dr Southgate will explore how schools and universities can use new technologies to connect disadvantaged youth interested in professions such as law, medicine and engineering.

As a scholar in the University's School of Education, Dr Southgate has already produced successful digital resources designed to help students develop literacy and study skills, including free apps such as Uni Tune In, Apostrophe Power and Sentence Hero.

Dr Stone will investigate student retention and success in open-entry online learning at Australian universities, Open Universities Australia and the Open University in the UK in order to identify approaches and strategies that engage and support online students and help them to persist and succeed in their studies.

Dr Stone's background in social work includes her role in the University's School of Humanities and Social Science, as well as counselling and professional management roles in the higher education sector. Her academic and professional background has provided detailed insight into the education experience for diverse student groups, including mature aged and first-in-family students.


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