Research projects

At the heart of what we do is commitment to make higher education accessible to everyone. To create positive change though, we first must identify the barriers that disadvantaged students encounter. Our research projects aim to delve deeper into the challenges being faced, and research ways in which they can be addressed.

Current research projects

Relevant and specific careers advice for all students at all stages of their educational journey

About the project

This project critically investigated best-practice initiatives in career advice for students from low socioeconomic status (SES) backgrounds with the aim of understanding how career provision can be productively expanded beyond the traditional career adviser model.

This important work would not be possible without the support of the National Centre for Student Equity in Higher Education (NCSEHE), which administered this project on behalf of the funding body, the Department of Education, Skills and Employment (DESE).

Research teams

University of Wollongong Kylie Austin
Professor Sarah O’Shea (honorary fellow)
Dr Olivia Groves
Jodi Lamanna
Professor Julia Coyle (affiliate)
University of Canberra Laurie Poretti
Associate Professor Philip Roberts
Australian Catholic University Nicola Cull
University of Technology Sydney Sonal Singh
University of Tasmania Professor Sue Kilpatrick
University of New South Wales Samantha Skinner


This 18-month study critically investigated best-practice initiatives in career education for primary and secondary students from low socioeconomic status (SES) backgrounds, including those in regional, rural and remote (RRR) areas of Australia.

The main objective of this study was to establish overriding principles to guide career education provided to school students and non-school-leavers across the sector. In doing so, the project sought to understand how young people from low SES backgrounds make decisions about their educational and vocational futures and to consider best practices in career education for these students.

Stages of the project

A mixed methods approach was implemented across four highly collaborative and iterative stages of the project.

Stage one provided the context for the project with a comprehensive literature review and desktop audit of current practice.

Stage two involved qualitative interviews and surveys with current students, parents and stakeholders in the provision of career education.

During stage three, five Career Development Learning (CDL) programs were designed, implemented and evaluated according to best-practice principles to consider the types of programs that might best support students.

Finally, stage four drew together the findings from each of the previous stages to create a set of recommendations and Best-Practice Principles for the education sector.



Case studies


Blog posts


Aims to change the onus of university outreach in targeted areas.

University of Wollongong Team

  • Jaimey Facchin
  • Jade Andrews
  • Samantha Avitaia
  • Brittany Brown


Aims to address social and educational disadvantages experienced by schools and their students located in regional and remote areas. It does so through engagement and resource development which will allow rural and regional schools to deliver outreach programs locally and at minimal cost. This in turn empowers schools to encourage higher education goals in their students and inspires those from under-represented backgrounds to attend university.

The program was designed and implemented as part of a federally funded 2016 National Priority Pool regional and remote outreach pilot program with four schools across NSW and Victoria.  

Objectives of the project

Develop a university outreach model for low SES students attending regional and remote schools, tailored to meeting the needs of the targeted schools:

  • Engage individuals from underrepresented backgrounds and provide tangible bridges to access higher education;
  • Connect positively with individuals from underrepresented backgrounds to support their aspirations and capacity towards higher education; and
  • Be driven by schools, who work collaboratively with partner universities to support school alumni in delivering university outreach modules designed to cater to the needs of the different school contexts.

More information / contact


The National Careers Institute (NCI) has funded a project to investigate best practice career support for students with disability with the aim of establishing the first dedicated national Career Development Learning (CDL) Hub for students with disability. The CDL Hub will include an accessible range of freely available resources and practical examples of programs that address careers for students with disability across stages of the student experience.

Research teams

National Centre for Student Equity in Higher Education, Curtin University Prof Sarah O’Shea, A/Prof Tim Pitman, Dr Olivia Groves, Prof Dawn Bennett, Dr Jane Coffey, Dr Cathy Drane, Jodi Lamanna, Nuala O’Donnell.
University of Wollongong Kylie Austin
La Trobe University Mollie Dollinger
University of Tasmania Prof Sue Kilpatrick
Swinburne University of Technology David Eckstein


The purpose of the project is to establish the first dedicated national Career Development Learning (CDL) Hub for students with disability which will showcase best practices in the field. The CDL Hub will assist others in developing bespoke and contextualised approaches to support the CDL of students with disability. 

The aims of the project are to:

  • investigate the range of resources and programs that exist to support the CDL of students with disability,
  • critically engage with existing good practice and consider its validity in the light of changed contexts and educational challenges,
  • collaboratively develop and pilot examples of best practice across the post-16 educational environment, and
  • disseminate and showcase examples of best practice to complement existing practices.

Phases of the project

Phase 1 will involve an audit of CDL programs and career interventions that exist across Australia. Phase 2 aims to identify best practice for students with disability by program type and will achieve this via analysis of existing data sources and the conducting of interviews with practitioners, students, and key stakeholders. Phase 3 involves the planning, implementation and evaluation of four trials carried out by organisations across Australia, engaging with students with disability at different phases of the student lifecycle. Phase 4 is the dissemination phase and will involve the establishment of the CDL Hub and hosting of a CDL for Disability Symposium.


For more info about the project, contact Jodi Lamanna.