Associate Professor Seamus Fagan

Associate Professor Seamus Fagan


Centre for English Language and Foundation Studies

Career Summary


Seamus Fagan has been the Director of the English Language and Foundation Studies Centre since 2001. In this role, Seamus is responsible for overseeing and managing a large portfolio of ELICOS and enabling education programs. The Centre offers the largest enabling programs in Australia and a range of ELICOS options for International students.

Seamus played a key role in the establishment of a national enabling educator’s conference as well as a peak body for enabling educators; the National Association of Enabling Educators of Australia (NAEEA) and currently serves on its executive. For 17 years he served on the Board of English Australia, the peak body for EFL teaching in Australia, the last 6 years as its chair. In 2016, Seamus was awarded a prestigious Lifetime Achievement Award from English Australia, becoming only the third person to ever receive this award. He has served for 7 years on the Board of the National ELT Accreditation Scheme (NEAS), and 4 years on the Board of the International Education Educators of Australia. In Melbourne in 2012 Seamus received the ‘Distinguished Contribution to the Field of International Education’ award at the Australian International Education Conference. Along with Professor Jim Albright he established and maintains the Potential Enabling Program Participant Research (PEPPR) register, which is a register of over 1200 former enabling students who have indicated a commitment to take part in research into widening participation. Seamus has also served as an OLT Assessor for National Fellows and OLT major projects.  Seamus served on an AESOC working group that developed the standards for international foundation programs. Over the years Seamus has been involved in program and unit reviews throughout Australia, as well as New Zealand and Ireland.  He is also on  a list of ELT experts maintained by Quality and Qualifications Ireland (QQI). Seamus serves on the Language Education in Asia (LEIA) Journal Advisory Board.

Research Expertise:

Seamus is currently the Chief Investigator of an Office for Learning and Teaching funded project titled “(Re)claiming social capital: improving language and cultural pathways for refugee students into Australian higher education”. The overarching aims of this project are to identify the pathways taken by Humanitarian Entrant Background students to enter Higher Education and to investigate how HEB students experience their transitions into and through undergraduate study.

Seamus is also involved in a collaborative project with the Centre of Excellence for Equity in Higher Education and the Wollotuka Institute which looks at the educational aspirations and participation of Indigenous women of reproductive age in regional, rural and remote communities.

Seamus has previously been involved in a Centre of Excellence for Equity in Higher Education (CEEHE) funded project titled “The Ripple Effect: how enabling education impacts on the individual, the family and the community”. The project looked at the effect of enabling education on individuals, their families and the community and found that people who completed enabling programs show similar attributes to students who complete HE via more traditional pathways, however the impact appears to be greater for families and communities of enabling students who complete HE in comparison to those who follow traditional pathways.

Seamus’ other area of research is World Englishes and he has been invited to speak on this topic at a number of international conferences, as well as contributing a chapter on Asian Englishes to the book Towards the Fusion of Language, Culture and Education.

Teaching Expertise:

Seamus has had a long involvement in ESL and enabling education in Australia. Seamus has also had ESL/EFL teaching experience in Ireland, the UK, Lesotho, Egypt and Sudan.



  • Master of Arts, University of Durham
  • Bachelor of Arts, University College, Dublin - Ireland
  • Higher Diploma in Education, University College, Dublin - Ireland

Fields of Research

Code Description Percentage
139999 Education not elsewhere classified 100

Professional Experience

UON Appointment

Title Organisation / Department
Director University of Newcastle
Centre for English Language and Foundation Studies


For publications that are currently unpublished or in-press, details are shown in italics.

Journal article (2 outputs)

Year Citation Altmetrics Link
2015 Moskovsky C, Jiang G, Libert A, Fagan S, 'Bottom-up or top-down: English as a foreign language vocabulary instruction for Chinese university students', TESOL Quarterly, 49 256-277 (2015) [C1]
DOI 10.1002/tesq.170
Co-authors Christo Moskovsky, Alan Libert
2012 Bennett AK, Hodges BE, Kavanagh KO, Fagan SJ, Hartley JH, Schofield NJ, ''Hard' and 'soft' aspects of learning as investment: Opening up the neo-liberal view of a programme with 'high' levels of attrition', Widening Participation & Lifelong Learning, 14 141-156 (2012) [C1]
Co-authors Anna Bennett

Conference (2 outputs)

Year Citation Altmetrics Link
2013 Fagan SJ, 'Is there a 'best way' to provide support to enabling students and can there ever be 'too much' support?', National Association of Enabling Educators of Australia Conference (2013) [E3]
2011 Albright JJ, Fagan SJ, Ross AM, 'Establishing research into enabling program outcomes at the University of Newcastle', Proceedings of the 1st International Australasian Conference on Enabling Access to Higher Education (2011) [E2]
Co-authors James Albright

Other (1 outputs)

Year Citation Altmetrics Link
2015 Fagan, May JR, 'Open Foundation opens doors to uni study', Newcastle Morning Herald Opinion. Newcastle NSW: Newcastle Morning Herald (2015)
Co-authors Josephine May

Research Supervision

Number of supervisions


Past Supervision

Year Level of Study Research Title / Program / Supervisor Type
2014 PhD EFL/ESL Vocabulary Teaching Strategies: The Effects of Bottom-Up and Top-Down Approaches on the Acquisition of EFL/ESL Vocabulary by Chinese University Students
PhD (Linguistics), Faculty of Education and Arts, The University of Newcastle

Associate Professor Seamus Fagan


Centre for English Language and Foundation Studies
Academic Division

Contact Details

Phone 15377
Fax 17068


Room LC3-22
Building Language Centre
Location Callaghan
University Drive
Callaghan, NSW 2308