In December 2020, UNE approved a new Higher Education Participation and Partnerships Program (HEPPP) strategy with strong focus on larger-scale projects demonstrating whole of university impact.

Known as the UNE IRLSAF (HEPPP) Strategy and Framework, it details the strategic direction of such projects and sets out criteria for funding allocation to ensure the best possible value for both students and the university.

UNE has run HEPPP projects since 2013, however recent changes saw the eligible HEPPP funding pool expand as part of the Job-ready Graduates Package and 2021 Reform of Equity Funding.

The expansion ensures support for Australians from low socio-economic (SES) backgrounds, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Students, and regional and remote Australia who have the ability to study at university have the opportunity to do so. The funding is provided by Federal Government and support activities that improve access to undergraduate courses for these students as well as improve the retention and completion rates of those students.

UNE has more than 5,200 low SES students, over 900 indigenous students and an estimated 9,600 regional and remote students. Although the University’s access achievement rates are well above the sector average its retention and success rates are very low compared to competitors.

For this reason, the 2021 UNE IRLSAF Strategy is focussing on the engagement, retention and success of the UNE IRLSAF student cohort, including low-SES, Indigenous and Regional and Remote students.

Under the new strategic framework the proportion of funding allocated to retention and engagement has tripled from the current 20% of total HEPPP projects to 60% of projects. The remaining 40% targets the Pre-Access, Access, Participation or TransitionOUT phases of the student lifecycle.

Over the coming five weeks Pulse will explore some of these projects in detail starting with PASS@UNE and exploring the initiative form both a university and student perspective.


PASS@UNE is an academic assistance program with a focus on traditionally difficult units that students are likely to encounter early in their studies. PASS stands for Peer Assisted Study Sessions and aims to support learning through student facilitated study sessions and contributing to a sense of belonging to the UNE community. Read more.

Bachelor of Social Science student Sally Aurisch is a passionate PASS@UNE leader who guides students through PASS sessions helping them with unit content, and sharing her passion and inspiration with fellow students. Read more.

Photo by Charlotte May from Pexels.