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The University of Melbourne > Centre for the Study of Higher Education Trends and Issues in Australian Higher Education Participation Forum on Higher Education.

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Presentation on theme: "The University of Melbourne > Centre for the Study of Higher Education Trends and Issues in Australian Higher Education Participation Forum on Higher Education."— Presentation transcript:

1 The University of Melbourne > Centre for the Study of Higher Education Trends and Issues in Australian Higher Education Participation Forum on Higher Education and Social Inclusion 16 July 2008 Simon Marginson

2 The University of Melbourne > Centre for the Study of Higher Education THE PROBLEM

3 The University of Melbourne > Centre for the Study of Higher Education The problem (if social equity is understood in terms of individual social justice; i.e. access to higher education and success in higher education should not be determined by class, ethnicity, geographical location or other personal characteristics). Improvements in participation for people with disabilities, NESB, women Low SES background persons (bottom 25% by postcode) one third as likely to participate in higher education as high SES background persons (top 25% by postcode). Low SES 15% of all students, 10% of postgraduate students, less in much of Go8 and high demand courses Almost no change in proportion of university places held by bottom SES quartile 1989-2006, i.e. no change in relative share Slow growth in domestic participation since the early 1990s makes it very difficult to improve social inclusion, e.g. raise absolute number of low SES students in higher education, and thus improve proportion of low SES group that participates

4 The University of Melbourne > Centre for the Study of Higher Education University participation by SES category [Postcode measure of SES. Note that this is a poor equity measure compared to say parental education or parental occupation, and makes it impossible to separate SES and geographic effects] Low SESMedium SESHigh SES bottom 25%middle 50%top 25% Share of university places average 1991-2005 14.5%44.5%39.0%

5 The University of Melbourne > Centre for the Study of Higher Education Low SES participation rate (%), 1989-2006 [postcode measure of SES]

6 The University of Melbourne > Centre for the Study of Higher Education The problem (2) Overall Year 12 completion rates have plateaued at about two thirds of the age cohort and are below the early 1990s level For low SES students the Australian Year 12 completion rate is 52% male (41% in Tasmania and 10% in NT), 66% female. For high SES students the Australian Year 12 completion rate is 75% male, 83% female In remote areas Australian Year 12 completion is 44% male (19% in NT), 61% female (23% in NT) Indigenous commencement rates in higher education are at half the rate suggested by population share and completion rates are below 50% The Indigenous school completion is at half the rate of the total population

7 The University of Melbourne > Centre for the Study of Higher Education The problem (3) The 2006 OECD PISA report found that for Australia, in scientific literacy, students from the lowest SES quartile and students from remote schools were approximately twice as likely to perform below the proficiency baseline compared with all Australian students (23 per cent and 27 per cent respectively compared with 13 per cent). Similar results were found in mathematical literacy (22 per cent and 28 per cent compared with 13 per cent) and reading literacy (23 per cent and 24 per cent compared with 14 per cent).

8 The University of Melbourne > Centre for the Study of Higher Education SELECTED INTERNATIONAL COMPARISONS OF BASE GROUP The under-representation of low SES groups is a common international problem but the degree of SES imbalance varies by country and often changes over time. This indicates that improvement in the low SES group’s share of enrolments may be possible. Note here that any shift in a zero-sum distribution involves social conflict. Only when there is a marked expansion of total participation at the same time are these tensions modified. Likewise there is international variation in the overall level of participation in higher education and in tertiary education, and thus in the proportion of the low SES group that participates. These factors again suggest that improvement in any one country is possible. Social inclusion in this sense does not involve a zero-sum problem and is easier to modify than in the other sense (raising the share of enrolments held by low SES people).

9 The University of Melbourne > Centre for the Study of Higher Education Spending on pre-primary education as proportion (%) of GDP, OECD 2004

10 The University of Melbourne > Centre for the Study of Higher Education Duration of education (years) for at least 90% of population, OECD, 2005

11 The University of Melbourne > Centre for the Study of Higher Education 15-19 year olds enrolment rate (%) in education (full-time & part-time), OECD 2005

12 The University of Melbourne > Centre for the Study of Higher Education 15-19 year olds enrolment rate (%) in education (full- and part-time), OECD 2005

13 The University of Melbourne > Centre for the Study of Higher Education Average duration of degree/ diploma tertiary studies (years), OECD 2004

14 The University of Melbourne > Centre for the Study of Higher Education LATE 2006 SURVEY OF DOMESTIC STUDENT INCOMES AND EXPENDITURES

15 The University of Melbourne > Centre for the Study of Higher Education The 2006 student income and expenditure survey found that the situation for under- graduates may have worsened since 2000. A smaller proportion of students had annual budgets in deficit, but Greater reliance on paid work — paid work providing a higher proportion of income (65.9% compared to 50.7%) More students taking out loans (24.4% compared to 12.7%) Increase in levels of non-cash assistance Decline in Commonwealth assistance (19.4% compared to 31.5%) More students reported missing classes because of work More students reported that work was having an adverse effect on their studies Most concern was expressed by: Full-time undergraduates (especially women), full-time postgraduate coursework students, Indigenous students

16 The University of Melbourne > Centre for the Study of Higher Education Female students were under more financial pressure than were male students… Among part-time students, male students’ incomes were much higher than women’s: 26 per cent higher for undergraduates 34 per cent higher for research postgraduates, and 31 per cent higher for coursework postgraduates. Female student were also … More likely to have a budget deficit. Less likely to have savings for an emergency. Less likely to have paid HECS or full-fees up front. Female students were more likely to have taken out a repayable loan in order to study than were male students, however male students with loans had borrowed much larger amounts.

17 The University of Melbourne > Centre for the Study of Higher Education Indigenous students compared with non- Indigenous students Indigenous students: Tend to have greater family responsibilities Tend to be older (47.8% over 30; 30.2% non-Indigenous) –30.2% had dependent children; 16.6% non-Indigenous –18.8% sole carer for another; 6.4% non-Indigenous: Reported higher study-related expenses Were far more likely to have taken out loans –Undergraduate 33.8%; non-Indigenous 24.4% –Postgraduate 34.4%; non-Indigenous 20.2% Reported working longer hours –Undergraduate mean 3 hours greater - 17.8; non-Indigenous 14.8 –Postgraduate mean 3.6 hours greater - 18.9; non-Indigenous 15.3 Were more likely to have missed classes because of paid work One quarter (25.2%) of the Indigenous students surveyed reported going without food or other necessities because they could not afford them (12.8% non-Indigenous students)

18 The University of Melbourne > Centre for the Study of Higher Education Patterns of work 70.6 per cent of full-time undergraduates reported working during semester. On average these students were working 14.8 hours per week. One in every six of the full-time undergraduate students who were working during semester was working more than 20 hours per week. More than one-third of the nation’s full-time university students — 35.2 per cent — were working at least 13 hours per week during semester. 4.5 per cent of full-time undergraduates reported being in full- time employment (up from 3.1 per cent in 2000), as well as 7.1 per cent of full-time postgraduate research students and 25.3 per cent of full-time postgraduate coursework students. 22.4 per cent of full-time students and 33.0 per cent of part- time students regularly missed classes because they needed to attend employment.

19 The University of Melbourne > Centre for the Study of Higher Education EARLY 2008 STUDY OF EQUITY

20 The University of Melbourne > Centre for the Study of Higher Education Why? A set of interrelated factors lie behind the persistent under- representation in higher education of people from low SES backgrounds. The relative influence of these factors cannot be determined with precision from the available data. Under- representation in higher education is partially the result of lower levels of educational achievement in schools, lower educational aspirations and lower school completion rates. These three factors are significantly interrelated. It is likely that lower levels of educational achievement are the precursor for other effects. Imbalances in higher education participation reflect endemic educational disadvantage that begins in the earliest years of schooling. People from low SES backgrounds are more likely to have lower perceptions of the attainability of a university place, less confidence in the personal and career relevance of higher education and may be more likely to experience alienation from the cultures of universities.

21 The University of Melbourne > Centre for the Study of Higher Education Is it money? Yes and No. Financial factors are cited by students as barriers or deterrents to entry to higher education. However, it is not clear from the available data the extent to which financial considerations— including the capacity or willingness to pay university fees, the availability of income support while studying and the opportunity cost in loss of potential income while studying — are inhibitors or barriers to university for people from low SES backgrounds in comparison with broader aspirational and school achievement factors. Financial factors have more significant influence in geographical areas where there are more concentrated groups or low income earners.

22 The University of Melbourne > Centre for the Study of Higher Education What happens after students enrol? It appears that low SES participation in Australian higher education is an issue of access rather than success once enrolled. At aggregate level, socioeconomic status appears to explain little of the variation in higher education success and retention rates. Once enrolled, low SES people do almost as well as medium SES and high SES in terms of retention, success and completion. But low SES remote students and Indigenous students are exceptions and particular attention needs to be given to both these groups.

23 The University of Melbourne > Centre for the Study of Higher Education Remedies The underlying factors in the under-representation of people from low SES backgrounds suggest multiple possibilities for policies and specialised programs, including: efforts to improve school retention and student achievement. (Some would originate as early as early childhood education); efforts to raise student awareness of higher education and aspirations towards higher education, such as through outreach in schools; programs for under-represented schools; pathways into higher education that circumvent competitive entry based on academic achievement, such as teacher recommendations; scholarships and other forms of financial incentive and support; first-year transition programs; articulation between VET courses and higher education courses; and the recruitment of mature-age students.


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