A university-wide approach to reaching the new Gateway Equity target.
Last year, UNSW announced a new access target – the Gateway Equity target – which acknowledges that socio-educational (school) advantage and socio-economic (home) status continue to unfairly impact educational outcomes for, and access to, university for young people from backgrounds historically underrepresented in higher education.
UNSW is committed to ensuring equitable access to university for students from underrepresented backgrounds and to them receiving the academic, social and well-being support required to successfully complete their studies.
“Our University has a long-standing history of widening access and participation initiatives that have steadily increased access for students from multiple equity groups. This new target extends beyond access with a linked strategic program of work that spans the student life cycle to ensure students are set up and supported to succeed once at university,” said Vice-Chancellor and President Professor Attila Brungs.
The UNSW 2025 Strategy initially set a target for 15 per cent of the undergraduate cohort to be from a low socio-economic background. By 2022, accelerated progress towards this target provided the foundation for a more ambitious commitment.
The Gateway Equity target sets out that 25 per cent of commencing domestic undergraduate students are from a low-SES background and/or Gateway partner schools over the next five years.
Mary Teague, Director of Access, Equity and Inclusion, and lead for UNSW’s primary strategy for widening access, the Gateway Admission Pathway and Program (GAPP), said the target takes the same approach as the GAPP in that it recognises the centrality of educational disadvantage.
“We deliver educational outreach and offer equitable access to UNSW for students from low-SES backgrounds and 380 high schools – Gateway partner schools – across NSW that are identified as having lower levels of educational advantage. By taking this approach, we also reach students from other equity groups who attend these schools at much higher rates,” said Ms Teague.
While the Gateway Equity target explicitly measures students from low-SES backgrounds and Gateway partner schools, UNSW will continue to separately monitor and measure the access and success of students from other equity groups. These include low-SES backgrounds, regional and remote areas, and those who identify as Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander.
Achieving the new target
The Vice-Chancellor said that an increasingly more diverse undergraduate population will have a transformative effect on how UNSW’s core business is undertaken, extending well beyond the Division of Equity Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) and Faculty EDI Committees to become embedded across the University.
“For the Gateway Equity target to be realised along with effective retention and success for this cohort, a holistic plan of work has been developed that requires the commitment of all faculties and divisions. Its progress will be monitored and led by the Gateway Student Equity Steering Committee,” he said.
UNSW has identified eight priorities for reaching the target, including:
- Expanding the scale of outreach and introducing new early offers through the Gateway Admission Pathway
- Offering transition pathways to UNSW for students who attain lower ATARs
- Stabilising student financial support through scholarships and on-campus accommodation
- Reinvigorating academic, social and well-being support programs for first-year students
- Prioritising academic support at the discipline level for first-year students who come through the Gateway Admission Pathway
- Enhancing teaching-and-learning-focused resources training, practices and initiatives for staff
- Tailoring our work integrated learning and employability programs to better meet the needs of equity cohorts
- Facilitating training to increase understanding of the strategic priorities associated with the Gateway Equity Target.
“This bold new commitment will establish a more equitable, diverse and inclusive student community and enrich teaching, learning, research and the student experience,” said Professor Brungs.
“I encourage everyone to watch this short video which summarises the eight priorities for reaching the target.”
Learn more about the Gateway Equity target.