More towards the centre : searching for field position for student equity in Australian higher education
Gale, Trevor 2009, More towards the centre : searching for field position for student equity in Australian higher education, in Student equity in higher education : what we know, what we need to know : forum proceedings, 25th and 26th February 2009., National Centre for Student Equity in Higher Education, Adelaide, S. Aust., pp. 1-15.
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The field of Australian higher education has changed, is changing and is about to change, as it is repositioned in relation to other ‘fields of power’. It is a sector now well defined by its institutional groupings – the Go8, the IRUs, the ATN and the rest – and by their relative claims to selectivity and exclusivity, with every suggestion of their differentiation growing. Even within these groupings there are distinctions and variations. Moreover, Australian universities now compete within an international higher education marketplace, ranked by THES and Shanghai Jiao Tiong league tables. ‘Catchment areas’ and knowledge production have become global. And the potential of a ‘joined‐up’ tertiary education system, of VET and universities, will rework relations within Australian higher education, as will lifting the volume caps on university student numbers. In sum, Australian universities (and agents within them) are positioned differently in the field, although not in the stable relations imagined by Pierre Bourdieu in the France of the 1960s. And being so variously and variably placed, institutions and agents have different stances available to them, including the positions they can take on student equity. In this paper I begin from the premise that our current shared stance on this has been out‐positioned. Nation‐bound proportional representation loses its equity meaning when the Australian elite send their children to Harvard, Yale, Oxford and Cambridge. The same could also be said, and has been, about equity representations by region, institution, discipline and degree. What then, also, for a new national research centre with a focus on student equity and higher education, for its research agenda and positioning in the field? What stance can it take on student equity that will resonate on a national and even international scale? And, given a global field of higher education, what definitions of equity and propositions for policy and practice can it offer? What will work in the pursuit of equity?
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Field of Research
139999 Education not elsewhere classified
Socio Economic Objective
970113 Expanding Knowledge in Education
HERDC Research category
E2.1 Full written paper - non-refereed / Abstract reviewed
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