The Australian Government provides funding to universities via the Indigenous, Regional and Low Socio-Economic Status Attainment Fund (IRLSAF) to support an increase in higher education participation for Indigenous students, students from low socio-economic status backgrounds and students from regional and remote areas. One of the IRLSAF components, the Higher Education Participation and Partnerships Program (HEPPP), assists universities to conduct activities and implement strategies to improve access to undergraduate courses for students from the identified groups and increase their retention and completion rates. Universities receive HEPPP funding via a formula based on the share of students from the three identified cohorts at each university. An evaluation from 2017 found that universities use HEPPP funds to deliver tailored and targeted programmes to current and prospective students across the various stages of the student lifecycle: pre-access (including raising aspirations); access; participation; and attainment and transition out. These appear to have contributed to an increase in the number of disadvantaged students applying for, being offered a place at, and enrolling in, university, as well as an increase in completion rates, for the period 2010-15 (ACIL Allen Consulting, 2017[6]).

Each year, universities provide the Government with an HEPPP Activity Plan, which outlines their proposed annual activities, and a retrospective HEPPP Activity Report. This allows the Government to monitor the implementation of the HEPPP and ensure funds are used according to the programme objectives. The Government has also commissioned a Student Equity in Higher Education Evaluation Framework project to structure and guide the overall evaluation of the HEPPP, and of university HEPPP-funded programmes and activities. It is expected that the Framework will support universities in evaluating the quality and effectiveness of their HEPPP-funded programmes through consistent data collection and reporting. The Evaluation Framework, including a university guidance manual, is planned to be delivered in late 2021.

Further reading: Department of Education, Skills and Employment (2021[7]), Access and Participation, (accessed 19 May 2021).

The Australian Institute for Teaching and School Leadership (AITSL) launched the Australian Teacher Response campaign in response to teachers’ requests for support in the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic. The campaign offers guidance to professionals in the early childhood education and care (ECEC) and school sectors on responding to the pandemic, but also helps them prepare for other shocks, such as the bushfire emergency experienced in 2019-20. An online teacher resource hub brings together resources and expert advice on topics such as differentiation, remote learning, student well-being, professional learning and parental engagement. The resources are evidence-informed, free for all Australian teachers to access, and selected on the basis of their timeliness, usefulness and added value. AITSL also produces spotlights on themes such as distance learning and the role of leadership in challenging times. These highlight best practices from the field and combine findings from international evidence and academic research. In this sense, the platform supports the long-term resilience of teaching professionals by helping them prepare for future shocks while responding to more recent crises.

Further reading: Australian Institute for Teaching and School Leadership (n.d.[8]), Australian Teacher Response – Support during changing times, (accessed 1 February 2021).


ACIL Allen Consulting (2017), Evaluation of the Higher Education Participation and Partnerships Program, (accessed on 1 February 2021). [6]

Australian Institute for Teacher and School Leadership (n.d.), Australian Teacher Response - Support during changing times, (accessed on 1 February 2021). [8]

Department of Education, Skills and Employment of Australia (2021), Access and Participation, (accessed on 19 May 2021). [7]

OECD (2020), Learning remotely when schools close: How well are students and schools prepared? Insights from PISA, OECD Publishing, Paris, [2]

OECD (2020), TALIS 2018 Results (Volume II): Teachers and School Leaders as Valued Professionals, TALIS, OECD Publishing, Paris, [1]

OECD (2019), PISA 2018 Results (Volume II): Where All Students Can Succeed, PISA, OECD Publishing, Paris, [4]

OECD (2019), PISA 2018 Results (Volume III): What School Life Means for Students’ Lives, PISA, OECD Publishing, Paris, [5]

OECD (2019), TALIS 2018 Results (Volume I): Teachers and School Leaders as Lifelong Learners, TALIS, OECD Publishing, Paris, [3]

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