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2018 Research Fellow Maria Raciti – Project Progress Bulletin 2

How the perceived risk of going to university influences the decision to participate in Australian higher education by people from low SES backgrounds.

Associate Professor Maria Raciti (University of the Sunshine Coast)

Welcome to the second project progress bulletin. The project commenced on 1 February 2018, and this bulletin provides an update on the progress to date.

Project Overview

The intention of this project is to increase the proportional representation of people from low socioeconomic (SES) backgrounds in Australian higher education.

In brief, this project:

  • focuses on the role of perceived risks in the decision to go (or not to go) to university for students from low SES backgrounds
  • draws attention to the contemporary career context where traditional ways of planning careers no longer work.

This project is important because:

  • making career decisions is becoming increasingly complex and fraught with risk
  • with more occupations to choose from than ever before (hyperchoice), people may experience confusion or decision paralysis
  • we live in uncertain times with the rise of the gig economy, job automation, career mini-cycles, and an erosion of the sense of security that going to university will ‘guarantee’ access to a defined, stable occupation
  • compounding this situation are predictions that jobs in the future may be more likely to need a university education
  • given low SES participation in higher education is not yet at parity, there is a need to accelerate efforts to prevent the deepening of social inequalities.

This project:

  • takes a strengths-based, opportunity-focused perspective of widening participation (WP)
  • hopes to evolve the now mature ‘barrier and enabler’ WP lens and encourage a shift from practice-led WP research to research-led WP practice
  • introduces the established transdisciplinary theory of perceived risk to the WP agenda
  • adopts a psychosocial lens, as psychosocial dynamics are modifiable at both the individual and small group level, expediting the impact of WP efforts
  • subscribes to the position that all low SES people have occupational aspirations formed throughout schooling (Gore et al., 2017)
  • presupposes that people from low SES backgrounds’ motivation to go to university is occupationally goal-directed. Thus, going to university is a means to an end and
  • serves an instrumental purpose (that is, getting a job in an occupation of their choice).

Continue reading the October Project Progress Bulletin:

Maria Raciti Progress Bulletin 2

Posted 5 October 2018 Posted in General, Low SES