Building a regional research network: Working with our communities and staff

Anitra Gorriss-Hunter, Kate White, Gail Crimmins, Petrea Redmond, Kate Ames, Nadya Rizk, Cate Thomas, Sarah Casey

Research output: Other contribution to conferenceAbstractpeer-review


Background or scope of the study

In 2022, representatives from Australian regional (RUN) universities began meeting via Teams to collaboratively formulate measures to address disparities in transition to university and career advancement in regional universities. It was evident to us that the journey to university is complex and a greater understanding of transition and gender inequality in career progression were key concerns. We are developing projects to address the needs of our universities and communities. The focus of this presentation is on the initial findings of RUN academics undertaking an autoethnographic project to discover what enabled and supported us in our transition to university and academia and career pathways.

Significance and aims of the research

Despite transition and enabling initiatives to ensure gender equity for students and staff, student transition and support and gender parity are still stubborn problems in higher education and especially in regional universities. The project team will therefore investigate through our experiences how we might formulate responses to facilitate change.

Research design

The emergent research presented here employs an autoethnographic methodology that examines the reasons project members decided to attend university and their career progression through academia. It investigates the role that family and significant others played in encouraging and supporting students to enrol in tertiary study and interrogates narratives of lived experiences of work and career pathways in regional universities. Emergent themes from the narratives were identified through individual and collective coding, and inductive analysis.

Key findings and implications for further educational research

The initial findings from this project of autoethnographic writing from academics with diverse backgrounds provided various insights. Researchers reported ambivalence regarding insider and outsider positions involving family expectations, risk taking, awareness of difference, and searching for a sense of belonging. The resulting narratives of social justice in not perceiving difference as deficit and desiring change to improve conditions for students and staff permeated our stories. ‘Messy’ or non-linear career trajectories were also described.

In examining these themes, firstly, the researchers are developing ideas about how to further explore the topic, drawing on existing family networks or replicating these systems to support the transition process to university. Secondly, data on career pathways can be used to construct strategies and practices for career progression in regional universities, with the potential to generalise to the wider tertiary sector.


ConferenceAustralian Association of Research in Education (AARE) Conference 2023
Abbreviated titleTruth, Voice, Place: Critical junctures for educational research

We look forward to welcoming you to the AARE 2023 Conference hosted by the University of Melbourne. The theme of the conference this year is Truth, Voice, Place: Critical junctures for educational research. We invite education researchers to explore critical junctures in the field. We are excited to bring together a diverse community of scholars to engage in meaningful discussions and exchange ideas on the pressing issues facing education research today.

As you will see in the Call for Papers, one immediate context for the conference theme is the upcoming referendum on recognising Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in the Australian Constitution. This represents one of the many critical junctures facing educational researchers today, both locally and internationally. The conference aims to provide a welcome forum for scholars to discuss the implications of this historic moment, alongside the intersection of education research with broader local and global change.

We welcome submissions from education researchers across all areas of the field, including curriculum, policy, pedagogy, assessment, and leadership. We hope that the conference will provide opportunities for transformation, new possibilities, and new collaborations.
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