Barriers to tertiary life

UNI LIFE: Researchers are investigating why fewer students with disabilities attend regional universities than metropolitan tertiary institutions.

UNI LIFE: Researchers are investigating why fewer students with disabilities attend regional universities than metropolitan tertiary institutions.

Federation University is part of a national research project to investigate the experiences of people living with a disability who want to go to university in regional Australia.

“We are interesting in finding out about the barriers to undertaking university study for people with disability,” said Federation University’s Dr Jenene Burke.

Australian Bureau of Statistics figures show people with a disability are more likely to have lower levels of educational attainment.

Researchers from FedUni, Charles Sturt University, University of Southern Queensland, Central Queensland University and James Cook University are taking part in the $140,000 study.

“The uptake of higher education by people with disability is lower in regional areas than for their city counterparts,” said Charles Sturt University’s Dr Clare Wilding.

“Data from the ABS shows that there are more people aged 15 to 64 years living with disability in regional areas than those living in major cities, so we should see a higher proportion of students with disability from regional areas attending university.

“However only two per cent of people with disability living in Australia’s regional or remote areas are currently studying in higher education, compared with four per cent in a major city.

“We want to find out why this pattern is happening and how universities, governments and the community can address the problem,” she said.

FedUni’s Dr Burke has called for people with a disability who live in regional Victoria and want to be part of the study, to come forward.

“We are seeking people with disability who live in regional Victoria and who are willing to be interviewed,” she said. Researchers are particularly looking to speak to year 10 and 11 students who want to go to university and mature-aged people who haven’t been to uni but are interested in study.

Researchers have surveyed and interviewed students with a disability who are studying at regional unis.

Anyone wanting to participate can contact Dr Burke on 53279332 or js.burke@federation.edu.au