Low Socio-Economic Status People and Their Impact on University Participation, Choice of University and Choice of Course in Australia

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Low socio-economic status people and their impact on university participation, choice of university and choice of course in Australia

There seem to be persistent inequalities in Australian higher education participation. Over the last two decades the participation numbers for low socio-economic status group have only slightly improved despite improvements in access (Centre for the Study of Higher Education, 2008, p. 15). After the Bradley report which was written following the review of higher education system in 2008, the Australian government has introduced many policies and financial assistance for this demographic in hope of increasing the participation rates to 20 per cent by 2020 (Department of Education, Employment, and Workplace Relations, 2008, p. xiv). However, despite steady increases in overall tertiary participation, the inequalities still remain. People with low socio-economic status are not as successful in applying or gaining access to more prestigious institutions as those with medium or high socio-economic status are (James, 2007, p. 6). It is not only participation at university level that is affected with this imbalance. Significant social differences can be seen across different universities as well as different fields of study (Reay et al. 2001, p. 858). Study by Ferguson and Simpson (2011) has found, and James (2007) agrees, that students with low socio-economic background are not so successful in gaining entry into the courses with more competitive entry requirements like medicine, law or architecture. These students were more concentrated in courses such as education, nursing, IT and business (James, 2007, p. 7). James (2007, p. 7) believes that the same is true for the high demand universities, where low socio-economic status students hold a share of only 11 per cent of all places. These differences can be somewhat accredited to the geographical location of these more prestigious universities as they are mainly situated in the...
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