Socio-economic status, cultural diversity and the aspirations of secondary students in the Western Suburbs of Melbourne, Australia
- 4k Downloads
Using data from a recent survey of Australian secondary students, we find that those from higher socio-economic backgrounds are more likely to aspire to attend university. The same can be said for students who do not speak English at home. We find that students with an ethnic minority background are more likely to perceive higher levels of support from parents. However, we find that all students believe they receive encouragement from their parents to do well at school (rather than discouragement or disinterest), and that there is little difference in the level of importance placed on the views of parents between students from English and non-English speaking background. While interest in university education is strong across all socio-economic groups, particularly for students who do not speak English at home, there is a considerable gap between aspirations and enrolment levels. We suggest that this ‘aspirations gap’ is larger for students from low socio-economic backgrounds. This analysis also supports growing evidence that the postcode methodology for allocating socio-economic status to individuals is unreliable.
KeywordsAspirations Higher education Inequality Socio-economic status Ethnic background
The Aspirations Online research project was sponsored by the former Equity and Social Justice Branch at Victoria University. A number of colleagues have worked on aspects of this project. In particular we would like to thank Dr Jo Vu, School of Economics and Finance, Victoria University and Denise Bett, Manager of the former Equity and Social Justice Branch, Victoria University and leader of the Aspirations Online Project Team. We would also like to thank Kate O’Rourke, Kathryn O’Rourke, Katia Honour, and Peter O’Callaghan for their contributions to the Aspirations Project. Finally we wish to thank the anonymous referees for their useful comments. All errors and omissions remain our own.
- Allen, A. (1997). What are ethnic minorities looking for? In T. Modood & T. Acland (Eds.), Race and higher education: Experiences, challenges and policy implications (pp. 51–73). Great Britain: Policy Studies Institute.Google Scholar
- Archer, M. (1995). Realist social theory: The morphogenetic approach. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
- Australian Bureau of Statistics. (2008). Census of population and housing: Socio-economic indexes for areas (SEIFA). Australia 2006, Cat. no. 2033.0.55.001.Google Scholar
- Benjaminsen, L. (2003). Causality and sociological models: On relational structures and cognitive rationality. 6th ESA Conference Murcia 2003. http://www.um.es/ESA/principal_ingles.htm.
- Bernstein, B. (1977). Class, codes and control. London: Routledge & Kegan Paul.Google Scholar
- Boudon, R. (1974). Education, opportunities, and social inequality; changing prospects in Western society. New York: Wiley.Google Scholar
- Bourdieu, P. (1973). Cultural reproduction and social reproduction, in knowledge, education, cultural change. In R. Brown (Ed.), Knowledge, education and cultural change (pp. 71–112). London: Tavistock Publications Limited.Google Scholar
- Cardak, B. A., & Ryan, C. (2006). Why are high-ability individuals from poor backgrounds under-represented at university? Social Science Research Network, http://ssrn.com/abstract=914025.
- Department of Education and Early Childhood Development. (2008). On-track: Keeping young people’s futures on track. Online access http://www.education.vic.gov.au/sensecyouth/ontrack/data.htm.
- Foley, P. (2007). The socio-economic status of vocational education and training students in Australia. Adelaide: National Centre for Vocational Education Research.Google Scholar
- Hernandez-Martinez, P., Black, L., Williams, J., Davis, P., Pampaka, M., & Wake, G. (2008). Mathematics students’ aspirations for higher education: Class, ethnicity, gender and interpretative repertoire styles. Research Papers in Education, 23(2), 153–165. doi: 10.1080/02671520802048687.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- James, R. (2002). Socioeconomic background and higher education participation: An analysis of school students’ aspirations and expectations. Canberra: Department of Education, Science and Training.Google Scholar
- Jones, R. G. (2001). Identifying higher education students from low socio-economic status backgrounds and regional and remote areas. Canberra: Department of Education, Science and Training. http://www.dest.gov.au/archive/highered/eippubs/eip02_4/index.htm.
- Marjoribanks, K. (1991). Ethnicity, family environment and social-status attainment: A follow-up analysis. Journal of Comparative Family Studies, 22(1), 15–23.Google Scholar
- Martin, L. M. (1994). Equity and general performance indicators in higher education. Canberra: Australian Government Publishing Service.Google Scholar
- Schneider, B., & Stevenson, D. (1999). The ambitious generation. New Haven: Yale University Press.Google Scholar
- Seyfrit, C. L., Hamilton, L. C., Duncan, C. M., & Grimes, J. (1998). Ethnic identity and aspirations among rural Alaska youth. Sociological Perspectives, 41(2), 343–365.Google Scholar
- Taylor, A., & Krahn, H. (2005). Resilient teenagers: Explaining the high educational aspirations of visible minority immigrant youth in Canada. Journal of International Migration and Immigration, 6(3), 405–434.Google Scholar
- Teese, R. (2000). Academic success and social power: Examinations and inequality. Melbourne, Australia: Melbourne University Press.Google Scholar