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Keep HEPPP to make headway on disadvantage

Universities Australia has urged the Turnbull Government to retain a landmark equity program to lift university access for Australians from disadvantaged backgrounds.

In its submission to the review of the Higher Education Participation and Partnerships Program (HEPPP), UA says the highly-regarded scheme should be kept – and its funding put on a more reliable basis.

Deputy Chief Executive Catriona Jackson said that UA supported the Government’s intent to do more to address barriers to access and participation by disadvantaged and underrepresented groups.  

“The HEPPP – started in 2010 – has played a significant role in creating historic increases in higher education participation by under-represented groups,” Ms Jackson said. 

“To make big strides forward on access and equity, we need sustained effort and long-haul funding.  There is no plausible ‘quick fix’, so predictable and long-term funding is vital.”

“HEPPP has made a very good start. Since 2008, enrolments have grown for Indigenous students, students with a disability, and regional and remote students.”

“Students from low SES backgrounds now make up 17.7 per cent of domestic undergraduate students, up 1.6 percentage points from 2008. That is an extra 41,000 students from low SES backgrounds, going to university who wouldn’t have gone before.”

“HEPPP also sends a powerful message that higher education access is everybody’s business: all universities play their part,” she said.

The UA submission noted that the scheme also encouraged universities to work together to lift access through joint projects, enhancing both effectiveness and efficiency of the activities it funds.

The HEPPP scheme has two main elements: outreach projects that encourage students to apply and enter universities; and support projects to help students stay at university and complete their degree.

The submission notes that both halves of the program are vital to Government’s and universities’ efforts to make real and sustainable progress in higher education equity, access and participation.

The scheme could be further enhanced by building evaluation into program design.  This would make HEPPP’s objectives clearer, and enhance accountability.

The submission opposed a proposal to convert HEPPP into Government scholarships.

Read the full submission here. 

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