Wheelahan, Leesa: Educational pathways

Wheelahan, Leesa

Do educational pathways contribute to equity in tertiary education in Australia?Critical Studies in Education, 50, 3, 2009, pp. 261-75

A key assumption of equity policies in Australia, as in many countries, is that pathways from lower-status, vocationally oriented “second” tiers of tertiary education to “first” tier higher education are able to act as an equity mechanism. This is because students from low socio-economic backgrounds are over-represented in former and underrepresented in the latter. The assumption that pathways support equity is tested in this paper through an analysis of the socio-economic profile and institutional destination of student transfers from vocational education and training to higher education in Australia. It finds that educational pathways deepen participation in education by existing social groups but do not effectively widen participation for groups that do not have equitable access. This is as a consequence of the hierarchical structuring of qualifications within VET as well as in higher education. (abstract)

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