Launching a new era for student equity in Australia

Claire Halliday
Claire Halliday

Australia’s peak student equity research body has launched its new name – the Australian Centre for Student Equity and Success (ACSES) – at today’s Universities Australia Plenary Meeting in Canberra.

The rebranded ACSES – formerly the National Centre for Student Equity in Higher Education (NCSEHE) – is hosted by Curtin University and marks a significant evolution in the Centre’s mission to lead Australian universities towards fairness, accessibility and success for every student.

Support for disadvantaged students

As a What Works Centre (an organisation with an evidence-based approach to evaluate policies and practices), ACSES is funded by the Commonwealth Government and is at the forefront of offering evidence-based interventions, insightful data analysis and robust research to address the challenges faced by disadvantaged students. Its particular focus on First Nations Australians, students with disability, remote and regional students and low socio-economic status students aims to help support more equitable access to quality education.

In July 2022, Minister for Education the Hon Jason Clare MP announced the Government would commit $20.5 million over four years to expand the Centre.

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Curtin University Vice-Chancellor and ACSES Advisory Board Chair Professor Harlene Hayne says ACSES is committed to a vision for Australia to make higher education accessible to all – an approach that aligns with the Australian Universities Accord.

“ACSES is an Australian first – a centre dedicated to providing the higher education sector with tangible proof of what really works to improve student equity,” Professor Hayne says.

“Together, we can strive to give all students, irrespective of their background, an opportunity to participate in and succeed at university.”

Diversity, equity and innovation

The diverse team of dedicated research, data, and trials and evaluations academics and professionals shared a commitment to innovation and collaboration against the backdrop of higher education reform via the Australian Universities Accord, says Executive Director of the Centre Professor Shamit Saggar.

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ACSES Executive Director Professor Shamit Saggar and Curtin University Vice-Chancellor and ACSES Advisory Board Chair Professor Harlene Hayne.

“This new name and identity reflect ACSES’s role as a national leader at the forefront of delivering real solutions to reshape student equity in Australia,” Professor Saggar says.

“Our core mission is to help the sector improve. Shifting our operational model to that of a What Works Centre allows us to lead the adoption by Australian universities of an evidence-based approach. It is an exciting opportunity for the Centre to steward positive change and greater collaboration in the Australian higher education landscape.”

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Claire Halliday has an extensive career as a full-time writer - across book publishing, copywriting, podcasting and feature journalism - for more than 25 years. She lives in Melbourne with children, two border collies and a grumpy Burmese cat. Contact: claire.halliday[at]