VTAC data to provide insight into students’ mental health and its impact on their educational outcom

VTAC data to provide insight into students’ mental health and its impact on their educational outcomes

23 November 2021

Orygen researchers will use data from the Victorian Tertiary Admissions Centre (VTAC) to investigate trends in young people’s mental health and its impact on their course selections and admissions.

The new research project, called the Education Transition Project, could pave the way for young people with mental ill-health to receive tailored support when transitioning to further education or training.

The partnership between Orygen, Australia’s centre of excellence in youth mental health, and the Victorian Tertiary Admissions Centre on the project launches today.

As Victoria’s tertiary education gateway, VTAC calculates ATARs, processes course applications and handles special consideration claims – when students’ education is impacted by factors outside their control, including financial difficulty, illness, bereavement or trauma.

Over the next three years, VTAC will share this anonymised data annually with Orygen.

As part of the project researchers will examine issues such as the effect of COVID-19 on the mental health of Victorian school leavers applying for university or higher education.

The project’s findings will shed light on the mental health needs of tertiary organisations’ incoming student bodies, and inform the design and development of future programs and support for young people.

Professor Eóin Killackey, director of research at Orygen, said the project would, for the first time, open a window into this critical transition point in the lives of young people.

“Understanding the impact of mental ill-health on young people as they navigate the transition to further education and training is the first step in developing supports before, during and after, to ensure they have the same opportunity as their peers to pursue their educational and vocational goals,” he said.

Tamara Barth, Acting Director of VTAC, highlighted the project’s significant potential for young people.

“VTAC is delighted to be involved in this important research. Our wealth of data will be put to valuable use if it results in improving the experience and health of young people as they move through their educational journey,” she said.

The project has been made possible through the generous support of TAL.

Niall McConville, General Manager, Retail Distribution at TAL said the company was delighted to be supporting this important three-year project.

“We are humbled to be involved in research that will inform the development of a new generation of support mechanisms to help young people living with mental health conditions,” he said.