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: Recognising lifelong and life-wide learning to achieve Bradley’s participation and equity targets for Australian higher education

Written by Dr. Tim Pitman and Winthrop Professor Lesley Vidovich (UWA)


As a result of the Bradley Review (2008) of higher education, Australian universities are under pressure to enrol more students from diverse social and educational backgrounds. This paper considers how the recognition of lifelong and life-wide learning (commonly known as ‘recognition of prior learning’ or RPL) might be used to enhance higher education access for a larger and more diverse group of students, particularly those from disadvantaged backgrounds. Within a critical theoretical framing, the paper presents selected findings from a larger research study of the admission policies and practices of different types of universities. The focus here is on the Australian Technology Network (ATN) group, which prides itself on championing principles of participation and equity, consistent with the goals of the Bradley Review. To complement a discourse analysis of university policy documents, findings from interviews with staff involved in the development and enactment of admission policy at one ATN university are analysed. Findings reveal that the ATN group is well-positioned to deliver increased enrolments of students from disadvantaged backgrounds through RPL. However there is evidence that current admission policies and practices focus on notions of academic quality and meritocracy, and this might act to undermine attempts to make the sector more accessible. Implications for admissions policy development which harmonise with the Bradley reforms are also discussed.

Read more: Lifelong and life-wide learning paper – 2248PitmanVidovich

Pitman, T., & Vidovich, L. (2010). Recognising lifelong and life-wide learning to achieve Bradley’s participation and equity targets for Australian higher education. Paper presented at the 2010 AARE International Conference, Melbourne, Australia.