Despite a challenging higher education funding environment, Charles Sturt University (CSU) continues to deliver job-ready graduates and is improving access for a diverse range of students, as highlighted by the National Centre for Student Equity in Higher Education publication released today.
Access to higher education for rural and regional students remains a focus for CSU which continues its significant efforts in creating pathways for students who would otherwise not consider university, through a range of outreach programs especially focussed on students from low SES backgrounds.
“It’s important to remember that the higher education sector is evolving in response to social and technical change, and to meet student requirements and that as part of that, it is critical that funding continues to be provided in the area of participation for disadvantaged students provided in recurrent funding through HEPPP,” according to CSU Vice-Chancellor Professor Andrew Vann.
*More students from low-SES backgrounds are studying at CSU: Low-SES Schools partnered with CSU have seen an increase of 39% in student enrolments since 2014
*More Indigenous students are studying at CSU: Indigenous enrolments have grown 93% since 2012 among students from partnered schools
*Indigenous students are progressing better: Success rates among Indigenous CSU students have improved by 6 percentage points between 2011 and 2016
“We know from years of providing mentoring and support programs for students across regional areas that access to education is the determining factor in participation at university not whether there are enough potential students bright enough in country areas, to get into the courses,” Professor Vann said.
This view is supported by the work by Harvey et al in Student Equity in Australian Higher Education: Twenty-five years of a fair chance for all on access and equity to higher education which drives the focus for CSU to support regional communities.
Through the highly successful Future Moves program CSU has hosted students from across regional NSW on its campuses forging lasting relationships with rural and remote students to think about university study as an option for the future. This program has seen a 39% increase in enrolments from partner school students, with around a quarter of student leaders in the program coming from Future Moves schools.
A valuable element of the Future Moves program is the Danygamanlanha program which offers mentoring to indigenous students to offer support to see them reach their potential. Coupled with the broader Future Moves program, this has seen a 93% increase in enrolments among partner schools students since 2012 as compared with 39% among non-partner school students.
Professor Vann said Charles Sturt University is very proud that it leads in Indigenous student enrolments in Australia in 2016 (n = 635), and Award Course completions (n = 155). (See Australian Government Department of Education and Training data).
“As the Good Universities Guide 2018 reported in August, 83.9 per cent Charles Sturt University students find jobs within four months of graduating.
“The school leaver studying on campus full-time is now the minority. A greater number of students are now working for a few years and then studying full- or part-time.
“We also have high numbers of working adults looking for online flexibility to progress their careers.
“Charles Sturt University is working hard to ensure our course offerings and modes of study are geared towards our students, regardless of the experience or level of flexibility they are after.”
CSU has also been recognised for its innovative programs to support students studying online and in regional communities.