ISSR, in collaboration with Victoria University, was commissioned by the Commonwealth Government to deliver design specifications and indicative costings for a prospective Widening Participation Longitudinal Study. The longitudinal study represents a potential new research initiative by the Australian Government designed specifically to determine the factors influencing higher education participation in Australia.

The study designs that we provided to the Commonwealth Government were the outcome of a detailed research and consultation process. We found that a new study would be an opportunity to map the pathways of disadvantaged learners towards higher education with a focus on little-understood issues relating to student aspirations and expectations, as well as broader social and economic factors such as family attitudes, financial decision-making, peer influences, and mental and physical wellbeing.

The capacity of the longitudinal study to determine intervention effectiveness was a central value proposition in our study designs. There are currently no identified surveys in Australia that measure individuals’ experiences of equity interventions in the higher education context, and our study designs used administrative data in conjunction with new data collections to build appropriate data scaffolding for intervention evaluation.


  • Recommend a design for conducting a longitudinal study of disadvantage in higher education aspiration, access and attainment
  • Identify opportunities for optimal alignment to existing data resources
  • Conduct preliminary research to test the feasibility of the proposed approach


  • Written report to inform decision-making by government

Project team

  • Professor Bill Martin - Project leader
  • Dr Wojtek Tomaszewski
  • Professor Mark Western
  • Professor Peter Noonan (VU)
  • Professor Stephen Lamb (VU)
  • George McLean (VU)

Project details

Duration: January 2015–June 2016


  • Australian Department of Education and Training
  • Victoria University

Funding: Australian Department of Education and Training

Contact: Dr Wojtek Tomaszewski (