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You are reading: Social Marketing Strategy for Low SES Communities: Position Paper

Executive Summary

Education is transformative. Education delivers benefits to individuals, their families and communities. It is this far-reaching impact that compels research into understanding why people from low-socio economic status (SES) backgrounds are under-represented in tertiary education, and finding new ways to address this situation. This position paper reviews what is currently known about interventions for widening participation in tertiary education, with the intention of mapping those findings to a social marketing strategy aimed at people who have not traditionally considered tertiary education as a career pathway. A practical approach is taken, to give an overview of the current discussions and debates in the literature to review which approaches work best for the cohorts under consideration, and consider the reasons for that success. This project is novel as it synthesises two similar yet different domains; social marketing and widening participation. The social marketing-widening participation nexus that underpins this project not only provides a more robust platform which will generate new insights, it also represents a different lens through which to view the issue of under participation in tertiary education by people from low socio-economic backgrounds.

The project aims to develop a strategy for a social marketing campaign which will:

  • increase awareness of and aspiration to tertiary study amongst low SES students, families and communities
  • increase knowledge of pathways to tertiary study amongst low SES students, families and communities, and
  • increase numbers of applications to tertiary study and pathways courses from people from a low SES background.

The approach involves assembling and summarising what is known about the different cohorts of people from low SES backgrounds who may benefit from the campaign, who may be typically the first in their family to participate in tertiary education, including:

  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples
  • people who are non-English-speaking/culturally and linguistically diverse (including new migrant populations and refugees), and
  • people who have a disability.

Within each of these cohorts, gender and age (school-aged or mature-aged) are considered. The place dimensions include:

  • urban and outer urban areas
  • regional, rural and remote areas – noting the distinct issues relating to northern and western Australia and Tasmania.

The ‘influencers’ include:

  • family members (parents, siblings, relations and Elders)
  • peers
  • schools (teachers, guidance officers).

Intermediaries are also considered, including careers advisers, community organisations with a focus on education (e.g. The Smith Family) and university admission centres.

View the full position paper here:
Social Marketing Strategy for Low SES Communities: Position Paper (5Mb)


Acknowledgements: This position paper was funded as a key part of a 2014 National Priorities Pool project

3. Queensland University of Technology
Social marketing strategy to low-SES communities
The Queensland University of Technology will research and design an appropriate cost effective national social marketing strategy for low-SES students and communities that will assist universities to increase awareness of and raise aspiration to higher education.
$580,000

Cupitt, C., Costello, D., Raciti, M. & Eagle, L. (2016). Social Marketing Strategy for Low SES Communities: Position Paper. Report submitted to the Australian Government Department of Education and Training, Canberra.

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