International conference shines a light on equity in higher education

Professor Sarah O’Shea to be recognised with lifetime achievement award during three-day event

International conference shines a light on equity in higher education

Hundreds of experts from across the higher education landscape will meet in Wollongong this week with the aim of exploring how education institutions can embrace the rich knowledge, skills, experiences and cultures that students from diverse backgrounds bring to universities and further education providers.

The Enabling Excellence Through Equity Conference will run this week, from Monday (25 November) to Wednesday (27 November), with a range of presentations that highlight the diversity of the university experience and how universities are working to provide an environment that enables students to thrive.

The biennial national conference is run by Equity Practitioners in Higher Education in Australasia and the National Association of Enabling Educators in Australia, and is being held at the University of Wollongong’s (UOW) Innovation Campus.

Professor Sarah O’Shea, based in UOW’s School of Education, will also be awarded a lifetime achievement award during the conference. The first in her family to attend university, Professor O’Shea has dedicated her career to advocating for students who they themselves will be the first in their family to attend university. Her research has focused on educational access and equity.

She will be recognised for her significant contribution to equity in Universities and TAFE with the Equity Practitioners in Higher Education in Australasia Lifetime Member Award, during an event on Tuesday evening (26 November).

Professor Joe Chicharo OM, Senior Deputy Vice-Chancellor at UOW, said the University was thrilled to be hosting the event. It was an opportunity to shine a light on the incredible work underway, at UOW and at universities across Australasia, to help students to achieve their potential through tertiary education.

“Education is not a privilege, it is a right, and at UOW, we are committed to ensuring students from all backgrounds have the right to access an outstanding education that will enable them to go far in life,” Professor Chicharo said.

“There is no one path to higher education. Every student and every journey is different. Often students from low socioeconomic backgrounds, regional and remote areas, or who are the first in family to access a university education, are navigating this world without support and it is our job to foster an environment that empowers students to make informed decisions about their future.”

“The Enabling Equity Through Education Conference brings together tremendous minds from across the higher education world to achieve the best outcomes for all our students. We are pleased to welcome everyone to Wollongong, to experience the best our campus, and the city, has to offer.”

Professor Sally Kift, Principal Fellow of the Higher Education Academy, will be among those delivering keynote addresses during the three-day conference, alongside Professor Peter Crampton from the University of Otago, and Sonja Braidner, from NSW Fire and Rescue.

The conference will explore such presentations on topics such as the impact of university outreach programs, careers advice for low socioeconomic students, helping students from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island backgrounds to thrive, and addressing the generational divide in education.

The Enabling Equity Through Education Conference will also coincide with World Access to Higher Education Day, a global event that showcases the work underway to address inequality in higher education.

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