Access and Participation

For: 

The department is working to ensure that all people with the desire and capability to attend university have the opportunity to do so, and succeed in their studies, regardless of their background.

The department administers several programmes and initiatives to support student access and participation in higher education in Australia, including the measures announced in the 2014-15 Budget.

Higher Education Participation Programme

From 1 January 2015, the Government will reform the Higher Education Participation Programme by consolidating and streamlining the existing funding arrangements.  To reduce the administrative burden of implementing the HEPP, funding agreements under this programme will move from an annual basis to a three year funding basis.

The streamlined HEPP will free up universities to deliver different types of access and participation activities in a way that is flexible and responds to local needs.  The three year funding cycle will give universities the ability to do longer range planning and undertake more sustainable programme activities.

Higher Education Disability Support Programme

The Disability Support Programme provides funding to universities to undertake activities that assist in removing barriers to access and participation in higher education for students with disabilities.

The programme assists in providing educational support and/or equipment to domestic students with a disability with high cost needs.  Funding is also provided to encourage those providers to implement strategies to attract and support students with disabilities.

The DSP provides funding for the Australian Disability Clearinghouse on Education and Training (ADCET) website. The site provides information and other resources designed to promote inclusive teaching and learning practices for people with a disability.

National Disability Coordination Officer Programme

The National Disability Coordination Officer (NDCO) Programme supports a network of regionally based officers to work strategically to assist people with disability access and participate in tertiary education and subsequent employment.

As part of a national network, NDCOs work at the local level to assist working age people aged between 15-64 with a disability who may wish to succeed in post school education, training and employment.  NDCOs do this by working with education professionals, employers, the community and others to:

  • facilitate smooth transitions from school, to tertiary education and employment
  • address systemic barriers and gaps in support for people with disabilities in accessing and participating in tertiary education and employment
  • enhance inclusive practices and increase accessibility in tertiary education and employment for people with disabilities
  • increase awareness of people with disability about their post-school options and supports so they can participate in education and subsequent employment to the same extent as people without disabilities.

The National Centre for Student Equity in Higher Education

The National Centre for Student Equity in Higher Education (NCSEHE) is funded by the department and hosted by Curtin University. NCSEHE’s purpose is to inform public policy design and implementation, and institutional practice, in order to improve higher education participation and success for marginalised and disadvantaged people.

For more information go to the National Centre for Student Equity in Higher Education website

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Higher Education

The department is working to ensure that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people with the desire and capability to attend university have the opportunity to do so. To achieve this, the department adopts an approach that:

  • is aimed at increasing Indigenous participation and success in higher education;
  • includes greater collaboration with Indigenous people in higher education policy development; and
  • works with university leadership to ensure that Indigenous perspectives and knowledge are embedded into curriculum, teaching, and graduate attributes.

Research and reviews

  • Despite significant progress in recent decades, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people remain significantly underrepresented in Australian universities.
  • The Review of Higher Education Access and Outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander People (2012) examined the role of higher education in transforming the lives of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians. It recommended a collaborative approach by Government, universities and professional bodies to increasing the number of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students, staff and researchers in higher education.

Policy and strategic collaboration

  • The department works to enhance Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander outcomes within a whole-of-university environment.
  • The department also works with other Australian Government departments that have responsibility for managing Indigenous-specific programmes and funding, to ensure dedicated measures align with broader higher education policy.
  • The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Higher Education Advisory Council provides policy advice to the Australian Government on higher education, research and research training issues in relation to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander higher education students and staff.