This report explores how many veterans are accessing and succeeding in higher education.
Military veterans are largely invisible within Australian higher education. There remains little national evidence to confirm how many veterans are accessing and succeeding in higher education, who they are, and what universities could do to improve their access, success, and outcomes. This evidence gap is particularly problematic since international research suggests that veterans are likely to bring unique strengths to the classroom, but also to face specific challenges and barriers in accessing university. Moreover, postsecondary outcomes for Australian military veterans are relatively poor, with high unemployment rates and mental health risks. Higher education provides an important pathway for veterans to transition successfully to civilian life, and to harness the skills gained through serving the Australian Defence Force. In this research project we sought the voices of younger military veterans who had enrolled in Australian higher education after completing full separation from the Australian Defence Force. We asked them to outline their university aspirations and any perceived barriers to university access, the strengths they brought to their studies, their experiences on campus, and the ways in which universities might improve processes to enrol and graduate student veterans. We developed a national survey, informed by members of the Australian Student Veterans Association (ASVA), which was complemented by broader evidence and international research. Findings reveal challenges and opportunities for both the higher education and defence sectors.
Harvey, A., Andrewartha, L., Sharp, M. & Wyatt-Smith, M. (2018). Supporting younger military veterans to succeed in Australian higher education. Report for the Australian Government Department of Veterans’ Affairs. Melbourne: Centre for Higher Education Equity and Diversity Research, La Trobe University.