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You are reading: Student Preferences for Bachelor Degrees at TAFE: The socio-spatial influence of schools

A study funded by the National Centre for Student Equity in Higher Education (NCSEHE) at Curtin University has found that students who includes a preference for a TAFE degree on VTAC or SATAC forms are most likely to come from a high SES school in a metropolitan area and have a relatively low ATAR.

The report, Student Preferences for Bachelor Degrees at TAFE: The socio-spatial influence of schools, by researchers Professor Trevor Gale and Dr Stephen Parker from the Centre for Research in Educational Futures and Innovation (CREFI) at Deakin University, contributes to further understanding of the influence of school context (their socio-spatial location) on students’ preferences for TAFE bachelor degrees.

“One of the interesting things that emerged from the data is how it differs from the findings of last year’s Kemp and Norton report on the demand driven funding model of higher education,” said Professor Trevor Gale.

“Kemp and Norton suggested that degrees from non-university institutions would be particularly appealing to, and useful for, students from low socio-economic status backgrounds. But the data in our report – drawn from secondary school students in Victoria and South Australia over the last 5 years – shows that 47% of students who indicate a preference to enrol in a bachelor degree at a TAFE institution are from high socioeconomic status backgrounds and with low ATARs. Only 15% of preferences come from students from low socio-economic status backgrounds.”

“This suggests that the Federal Government’s plan to extend funding to non-university higher education in the form of Commonwealth Supported Places (CSPs) will be of most benefit to the wealthy rather than the poor.”

The study showed that a student’s preference for higher education is influenced by:

  • the student’s family and community
  • school context or position of the school in relation to its surroundings, and
  • school practices including subject availability, career advice, and engagement with higher education.

“There is strong alignment between students’ socioeconomic status and educational attainment and a gap between the academic performance of rich and poor schools,” said NCSEHE Director, Professor Sue Trinidad.

“Socio-economic disadvantage is correlated with particular forms of education that in turn reinforce conditions of poverty and low future aspirations.”

“I welcome this report and the contribution it makes to our understanding of student equity issues.”