Widening access to higher education: an Australian case study

Article


Postle, Glen and Sturman, Andrew. 2003. "Widening access to higher education: an Australian case study ." Journal of Adult and Continuing Education. 8 (2), pp. 195-212.
Article Title

Widening access to higher education: an Australian case study

ERA Journal ID20800
Article CategoryArticle
AuthorsPostle, Glen (Author) and Sturman, Andrew (Author)
Journal TitleJournal of Adult and Continuing Education
Journal Citation8 (2), pp. 195-212
Number of Pages18
Year2003
Place of PublicationManchester, United Kingdom
ISSN1361-7788
1477-9714
Abstract

In this paper the authors trace the development of equity within the Australian higher education context over the latter part of the last century. In particular they focus on the ways different perspectives (liberalist-individualist and social democratic) have shaped what has been a dramatic increase in the number and diversity of students accessing higher education in Australia .The adoption of a specific perspective has influenced the formation of policies concerning equity and consequently the way universities have responded to the pressures to accept more and different students. These responses are captured under two main headings – 'restructuring the entry into higher education' and 'changing the curriculum within higher education'. Several examples of current programs and procedures based upon these are explained. The paper concludes with the identification of three 'dilemmas'which have emerged as a result of the development and implementation of equity processes and procedures in higher education in Australia. These are: (a) While there has been an increase in the number and range of students accessing higher education, this has been accompanied by a financial cost to the more disadvantaged students, a cost which has the potential to exacerbate equity principles. (b) For one of the first times in the history of higher education, a focus is being placed on its teaching and learning functions, as opposed to its research functions. The problem is that those universities that have been obliged to broaden their base radically have also been obliged to review their teaching and learning practices without any budgetary compensation. (c) A third consequence of these changes relates to the life of a traditional academic. Universities that have been at the forefront of 'changing their curriculum'to cope with more diverse student groups (open and distance learning) have seen the loss of 'lecturer autonomy' as they work more as members of teams and less as individuals.

KeywordsAustralia; higher education; equity; access
ANZSRC Field of Research 2020390201. Education policy
390203. Sociology of education
390303. Higher education
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Byline AffiliationsOffice of the Vice-Chancellor
Faculty of Education
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