An evaluation of the Higher Education Participation and Partnerships Program (HEPPP), has provided a ringing endorsement of the program noting that since HEPPP was created, the share of university students from disadvantaged backgrounds had risen from 14.8 per cent to 16.1 per cent.
“We now have more than 40,000 extra students from low socio-economic backgrounds going to university who wouldn’t have gone before,” Universities Australia Chief Executive Belinda Robinson said.
“A world-class university education should be available to all those with the ability, regardless of background, postcode, or financial status. HEPPP helps to ensure that this is the case,” Ms Robinson said.
The report made clear that the program – and its effectiveness – is strongly supported by university staff, the students in the programs, and the schools involved.
Universities Australia commends the Turnbull Government for not only adopting the review’s key recommendation to retain HEPPP but in moving to protect its future through legislation.
“There is a deep desire to safeguard this program because of the powerful role it plays in transforming lives through higher education and creating opportunity,” said Ms Robinson.
“You can’t be what you can’t see. This program – through its outreach component – helps plant the seed of aspiration in those who may not otherwise have contemplated a university education.”
“It also helps to support those students once they enrol with the extra help they may need to succeed in their studies.”
Since the program was established in 2010, there have been nearly 2,700 HEPPP projects across 37 universities.
More than 40 per cent of these projects have helped low SES students to study and complete university. A further 40 per cent were outreach projects, mainly through schools, to increase the number of applications and university offers from low SES students.
In one HEPPP program cited in the report, more than 90 per cent of participating students went on to study a degree.