A broad, heterogeneous higher education sector should offer students choice, and an opportunity to find a course that closely suits their particular needs. However, although a preference for heterogeneity has been clearly signalled by the policies of successive governments, the ‘landscape’ of the differentiated market has itself been unplanned. Very large increases in participation in tertiary education, diversification of provider types and greater institutional differentiation within the university sector itself, has lead to new forms of stratification. No longer can notions of ‘equity’ centre around a consideration of those who do and do not participate in higher education (the underlying concern of A fair chance for all), but rather who participates where, and how – in short, the status game has shifted from the boundary of the academy to within it.
Here, I describe the historical policy shifts that have shaped the sector into its present form, and examines the implications for student equity of a higher education market in which providers are numerous, funded to different extents by different sources, and driven by different institutional missions. In particular, I show how increased participation and institutional differentiation have produced status effects that necessitate a change in approaches to equity, based on a more nuanced understanding of the way social class is expressed through forms of participation. Finally, the chapter considers policy settings that might serve as pre-conditions for an Australian higher education sector which would see more students pursue a high quality education irrespective of provider type and funding source.
- High Education
- Tertiary Education
- High Education System
- High Education Sector
- High Education Contribution Scheme
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Bexley, E. (2016). Further and Higher? Institutional Diversity and Stratification. In: Harvey, A., Burnheim, C., Brett, M. (eds) Student Equity in Australian Higher Education. Springer, Singapore. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-981-10-0315-8_16
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