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In 2010, the Australian federal government announced a new push to raise the proportion of students from low socioeconomic status (low SES) backgrounds enrolling in higher education at undergraduate level.
Teaching staff at Deakin University and The Gordon gained funding under the federal government Higher Education Participation and Partnerships Program for a project to improve access for low SES students in an undergraduate course and support their retention and completion.
The project combined research, direct work with students and collaboration between staff across the two institutions in Geelong, Victoria. It was focused on strengthening and streamlining the pathway from the Diploma of Community Services/Welfare Work at The Gordon to the Bachelor of Social Work at Deakin University.
Students have been taking the pathway from Diploma to Degree for many years, encouraged and facilitated by teaching staff who have supported students to apply for the Social Work course and negotiated advanced standing (credit for prior learning).
This project was a chance to investigate students’ experiences within the two institutions and to identify barriers and helping factors. It also looked at the perspective of staff and possibilities for building and promoting the pathway.
Land, C. (2012). University pathway turns lives around (103 KB). Geelong Advertiser, 5 November.
‘“I would’ve been so overwhelmed...”: The importance of TAFE in supporting success for low-SES students in HE,’ Proceedings of the 16th International First Year in Higher Education Conference, Wellington, New Zealand, 7–10 July 2013.
‘That social side of things: Students’ experiences of social and physical place,’ Proceedings of HERDSA2013 (Higher Education Research and Development Society of Australasia) Conference, Auckland, New Zealand, 1–4 July 2013.
The Role of TAFE as an Equity Pathway to Social Inclusion, Employment, and to University: Submission to the House of Representatives Inquiry into the role of Technical and Further Education (TAFE) system and its operation (2013).