Widening Participation Unit, Evaluation and Research

Widening Participation Unit, Evaluation and Research

Evaluation & Research

The Widening Participation programs have a comprehensive evaluation framework that includes methods to capture quantitative and qualitative feedback from high school students, teachers, parents, community members, university students and academics.

Evaluation of the programs has revealed positive impacts in the following areas: educational engagement, motivation, confidence and understanding of the pathways to and benefits of tertiary education.

There is a positive buzz in the school, we have students who are more confident and engaged now– this is also something that benefits not only the school, but the wider community. - Teacher

Click to read Jake's story ; Former LEAP-Robotics Participant and current Macquarie University Student- Dreaming Big

Read about Shamsia's journey ; Former Mentee and current Macquarie University Student - Supported to Succeed

Contact us

Sonal Singh PhD
Research and Evaluation Manager
T: +61 2 9850 1932
F: +61 2 9850 4694
E: sonal.singh@mq.edu.au

Evidence of Impact

$6 Return for every $1 invested

The Widening Participation Unit conducts ongoing monitoring and evaluation to assess our progress in improving access, participation and success for equity students in higher education.

We completed a multi-method, longitudinal study involving a mixture of surveys, focus groups and interviews to review the effectiveness of our programs in 2014-2015 using the following indicators:

Out of the students we surveyed across 2013, 2014 and 2015:

●             98% reported greater awareness of what university offers                       

●             89% reported knowing more about potential career pathways

●             90% reported improved motivation to study at university

●             82% reported increased confidence in their academic abilities

Community of Practice

The Widening Participation Unit also utilises evaluation data for the purpose of academic research output and engaging in a community of practice with leading Australian educational equity researchers and practioners.

Refugee Education Special Interest Group

This Special Interest Group (SIG) is a group of people from the community, higher education, vocational education and school sectors who have an interest in supporting educational opportunities for students from refugee backgrounds. More details http://www.refugeecouncil.org.au/educationsig

NSW Humanitarian Award 2016

Macquarie University’s LEAP – Macquarie Mentoring (Refugee Mentoring) Program has been recognised with the NSW Humanitarian Award 2016 in Education. More details http://www.mq.edu.au/newsroom/2016/06/20/macquarie-university-refugee-mentoring-program-winner-of-nsw-humanitarian-award-2016/#ixzz4F6g9voEQ

Book Chapter

Forthcoming in “Bridges, Pathways and Transitions: International Innovations in Widening Participation” to be published by Elsevier in 2016.

Journal Article

Singh, S. and Tregale, R. (2015) From homeland to home: Widening Participation through the LEAP - Macquarie Mentoring (Refugee Mentoring) Program. International Studies in Widening Participation, Vol. 2, Issue 1, pp. 15-27

Higher Education Conferences 2016:

Students, Transitions, Achievement, Retention & Success (UniSTARS) http://unistars.org/program/2016-program/workshops-2016/

Transition Support for Students from Refugee Backgrounds in Higher Education - Workshop Presentation by Ruth Tregale and Sonal Singh.

 Higher Education Research and Development Society of Australasia (HERDSA)


  1. Bridging the Gap for Students from Refugee  Backgrounds: LEAP -  University  Preparedness   (LEAP - UP)  - Presentation by Ruth Tregale and Sonal Singh Widening Participation Unit, Macquarie University
  2. (Re) claiming social capital for students from refugee backgrounds: lessons from OLT research  - Joint presentation by  University of Newcastle, Macquarie University and Curtin University (Evonne Irwin  ,Sally Baker , Ruth Tregale , Sonal Singh , Jaya Dantas , Shelley Gower)

Evaluation of Bridges to Higher Education

Read the KPMG Evaluation to Bridges to Higher Education Final Report 2015

Research Projects

National Priorities Pool 2016

LEAP - University Preparedness (LEAP - UP):  Developing a tertiary enabling program for low-SES students from refugee backgrounds 

Macquarie University has been awarded a National Priorities Pool grant under the 2016 Federal Government Higher Education Participation and Partnerships Program (HEPPP) to build on the success of its LEAP-Macquarie Mentoring (Refugee Mentoring) Program.

Specifically, the LEAP-University Preparedness project (LEAP-UP) will review international best practice and initiatives at Australian universities, develop a pilot enabling program specific to the needs of students from refugee backgrounds, and establish a National Community of Practice comprising researchers, equity practitioners and partner organisations active in supporting students from refugee backgrounds.

Office of Learning and Teaching (OLT) funding 2015

The Widening Participation Unit has been successful in the latest round of Office of Learning and Teaching (OLT) funding for diverse educational projects.  

The project "(Re)claiming social capital: improving language and cultural pathways for refugee students into Australian higher education" will identify the pathways taken by Humanitarian Entrant Background students to enter higher education and how these students experience their transitions into and through undergraduate study. The project is in partnership with University of Newcastle and Curtin University.

To find out more about the OLT funding, visit their website: www.olt.gov.au

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