In the coming weeks, the Federal Government is expected to release national guidelines to assist in the development of university-low socioeconomic status (low SES) schools partnerships and increased enrolments of low SES students.
The Government’s laudable goal that by 2020, 20% of undergraduate enrolments will be students from low SES backgrounds is to be supported by a proposed Partnerships and Participation Program. The sector is eagerly awaiting the guidelines for the Program under which it will receive equity funding from 2010. As indicated in the budget report 'Transforming Australia's Higher Education System', there is $108 million available through the partnerships fund and $325 million for low SES enrolment loading over four years.
The core questions dogging the sector in relation to the new equity funding include:
In June 2009, Professor Marcia Devlin and I suggested a policy optimisation model for the Government’s new low SES goals and funding regime in Campus Review (http://www.campusreview.com.au/pages/section/article.php?s=Comment&idArticle=7677)
In the meantime, Deakin University has been expanding its schools partnerships through the Metropolitan Access Program (MAP) and Regional Engagement Access Program (REAP), both of which were instituted in 2007 and include a strong academic enrichment component aimed at Year 9-10.
We eagerly await the Government's announcement.