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Towards a southern theory of higher education

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conference contribution
posted on 2009-01-01, 00:00 authored by Trevor Gale
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.

History

Event

First Year in Higher Education Conference (12th : 2009 : Townsville, Qld.)

Pagination

1 - 15

Publisher

Queensland University of Technology

Location

Townsville, Qld.

Place of publication

Brisbane, Qld.

Start date

2009-06-29

End date

2009-07-01

ISBN-13

9781741072822

Language

eng

Notes

Reproduced with the kind permission of the copyright owner.

Publication classification

E2.1 Full written paper - non-refereed / Abstract reviewed

Copyright notice

2009, Queensland University of Technology

Editor/Contributor(s)

J Thomas

Title of proceedings

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.

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