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NCSEHE 2020/21 Research Grants Program

The objective of the NCSEHE is to build the evidence base through research informing policy and practice. One of the ways the Centre has achieved this is through the NCSEHE Research Grants Program which has funded 62 projects over five rounds from 2014–20, with a total research expenditure of A$2,480,512.

The sixth funding round (2020-2021) received 103 applications, representing an almost 50 per cent increase from 2019. A record 17 projects from 12 different lead organisations, including 85 investigators, were awarded funding to the total value of A$540,000.

The NCSEHE identifies key research priorities for each funding round; many of this year’s projects will explore equity issues with reference to the COVID-19 context.

There are two projects with a focus on students with disability: Re-imagining exams: How do assessment adjustments impact on inclusion?; and, Investigating the relevance of mental health for the current equity groups framework using multi-agency linked-administrative data.

Re-imagining exams: How do assessment adjustments impact on inclusion?

Lead institution: Deakin University

Researchers: Joanna Tai, Rola Ajjawi, Margaret Bearman, Joanne Dargusch, Mary Dracup and Lois Harris

Project abstract: High-stakes, timed assessments can be problematic for students with disabilities (SWD). Though assessment adjustments are enshrined in legislation, equitable outcomes are not assured, and evidence for their efficacy is unclear. SWD membership of additional equity groups may contribute to disadvantage which cannot be addressed through assessment adjustments. This project shifts the focus to understanding the broader context of, and barriers and enablers to, inclusive assessment design. It will use student voice data and workshops with staff and students to research inclusive assessment development. This will inform an inclusive assessment framework and underpin recommendations for policy and practice.

Investigating the relevance of mental health for the current equity groups framework using multi-agency linked-administrative data

Lead institution: University of Queensland

Researchers: Tomasz Zajac, Wojtek Tomaszewski and Francisco Perales

Project abstract: Critics of the current equity framework in the Australian higher education system have highlighted that it focuses on just a handful of statuses and omits other potentially disadvantaging characteristics. Scholars have suggested that people with mental health conditions are recognised as an additional equity group. The project investigates the relevance of mental health for the current equity groups framework using unique Multi-Agency Data Integration Project (MADIP) data. The project will investigate the joint impact of mental health and membership in established equity groups on first-year retention. The project will inform future policies on student mental health.

Further information on the successful projects