Gale, Trevor 2009, Towards a southern theory of higher education, in Preparing for tomorrow today : the first year experience as foundation : First Year in Higher Education Conference 2009, 29 June - 1 July 2009, Townsville, Queensland : conference proceedings., Queensland University of Technology, Brisbane, Qld., pp. 1-15.
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Crudely, social inclusion in Australian higher education is a numbers game. While the student recruitment departments of universities focus on ‘bums on seats’, equity advocates draw attention to ‘which bums’, in ‘what proportions’, and, more to the point, ‘which seats’, ‘where’. But if the counting of bums is crude, so is the differentiation of seats. Just distinguishing between courses and universities and scrutinizing the distribution of groups, is a limited view of equity. The most prestigious seats of learning give students access primarily to dominant forms of knowledge and ways of thinking. In terms of access, it is to a diminished higher education, for all. Further, undergraduates – particularly in their first year – are rarely credited with having much to contribute. Higher education is the poorer for it. In this paper I propose an expanded conception for social inclusion and an enlarged regard for what is being accessed by students who gain entry to university. Drawing on Connell’s conception of ‘Southern Theory’, I highlight power/knowledge relations in higher education and particularly ‘southerners’: those under‐represented in universities – often located south of ENTER (Equivalent National Tertiary Entrance Rank) cut‐offs – and whose cultural capital is similarly marginalised and discounted. While increasing regard for the importance of Indigenous knowledges is beginning to challenge the norms of higher education, we are yet to generalise such reconceptions of epistemology to include knowledges particular to people from regional and rural areas, with disabilities, and from low socioeconomic backgrounds. Nor have we really engaged with different ways of thinking about the physical and social worlds that are particular to these groups. To take account of marginalized forms of knowledge and of thinking will mean thinking differently about what higher education is and how it gets done.
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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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