Equalizing and widening access to higher education during a pandemic: lessons learned from a multi-university perspective

Emlyn Dodd*, Sonal Singh, Jim Micsko, Kylie Austin, Carolina Morison, Stuart Upton

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    2 Citations (Scopus)
    7 Downloads (Pure)


    The COVID-19 pandemic caused a rapid and unprecedented shift of widening participation and outreach activities to online and remote delivery. The impact of this went beyond practitioners and the university sector; positive and negative implications are felt by stakeholders and the broader community. This shift online is discussed through the lens of a multi-university perspective, using four case studies from university outreach programs in one Australian state. The article provides a holistic view of the lessons learned and discoveries made, informing future program design and delivery. These programs include primary and secondary students, teachers, parents, guardians and carers, and work within a range of low socioeconomic and regional, rural and remote contexts. We argue that the fundamentally necessary shift online created a profound legacy and bears potential to increase accessibility (via diversity and scale), but, simultaneously, that care must be applied if substituting face-to-face engagement with that online. While this article primarily focuses on issues of value to practitioners, it also discusses important implications for academics, support staff, and university executive regarding the access and participation of underrepresented cohorts during times of mass change.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)58-72
    Number of pages15
    JournalStudent Success
    Issue number3
    Early online date2021
    Publication statusPublished - Nov 2021

    Bibliographical note

    Copyright the Author(s) 2021. Version archived for private and non-commercial use with the permission of the author/s and according to publisher conditions. For further rights please contact the publisher.


    • widening particiapation
    • access
    • student equity
    • online learning
    • COVID
    • outreach
    • Widening participation
    • Outreach programs
    • Access and participation
    • Online learning
    • Student equity


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