The Australian Centre for Student Equity and Success acknowledges Indigenous peoples as the Traditional Owners of the lands on which our campuses are situated. With a history spanning 60,000 years as the original educators, Indigenous peoples hold a unique place in Australia. We recognise the importance of their knowledge and culture, and reflect the principles of participation, equity, and cultural respect in our work. We pay our respects to Elders past, present, and future, and consider it an honour to learn from our Indigenous colleagues, partners, and friends.

You are reading: Aspiring to higher education in regional and remote Australia: the diverse emotional and material realities shaping young people’s futures

Skye Gibson, Sally Patfield, Jennifer M. Gore and Leanne Fray

Originally published in The Australian Educational Researcher
28 July 2021

Abstract

Students from regional and remote areas remain significantly under-represented in higher education despite decades of equity policy designed to encourage participation. One explanation is that policy initiatives often overlook the realities in local rural contexts that can make higher education less desirable. Applying the theoretical lens of ‘doxic’ and ‘habituated’ aspirations, this paper analyses interviews with 13 students, 10 parents/carers, and 4 teachers from one regional and one remote community in NSW, Australia. We document the emotional and material realities shaping young people’s imagined futures in these communities, highlighting the commitment to a rural lifestyle in one, and the desire to escape the other community in decline. We argue that developing successful initiatives to address equitable participation in higher education requires a departure from hegemonic discourses of ‘rurality’ and greater recognition of and respect for the diverse needs and desires of regional and remote students.

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