News & Events

Symposium: Capabilities and Capitals: Implications for Students’ Persistence and Success at University

Event Details
University of Wollongong
21 November 2019 - 22 November 2019


This symposium is being funded as part of an ARC Discovery project entitled Higher education participation and success: Investigating the persistence strategies of students who are the first in their family to attend university. 

This event will bring together key thinkers and scholars who have applied the capability theory (Sen 1992, 1993) and capital theory (Bourdieu, 1986, 1993) across disciplines to consider how this framing may assist us to reconceptualise student persistence.

We know little about how learners draw on ‘internal capabilities’ (Nussbaum, 2011) when persisting in university; these capabilities are not innate but instead develop in interaction with the individual’s environment (social, cultural, familial and political). Exploring how internal capabilities assist HE persistence and the functionings that support these capabilities will contribute alternative perspectives to the issue of student participation and retention. Rather than continuing to focus on what people lack (i.e. wealth, ability, language) why not focus on strengths in order to develop understandings that challenge traditional notions of access and participation? With the growth in diverse student populations, the need to understand the internal capabilities that support academic persistence and success is urgently required. This symposium deliberately shifts attention away from deficit views of student cohorts and instead utilises the Capability Approach and Capital Theories to understand the ways in which students successfully navigate higher education and reach graduation.

The symposium would be of interest to the following:

  • researchers/scholars of higher education (particularly those researching equity fields)
  • equity/widening participation stakeholders
  • academic staff
  • policymakers
  • representatives from not-for-profit/community organisations

Invited Speakers

  • Dr Dina Bowman — Principal Fellow, Work and Economic Security, University of Melbourne
  • Professor Penny Jane Burke — Director, Centre of Excellence for Equity in Higher Education, the University of Newcastle
  • Dr Tamsin Hinton-Smith — Senior Lecturer in higher education, University of Sussex, UK
  • Dr Tebeje Molla — Australian Research Council (ARC) Discovery Early Career Researcher Award (DECRA), Deakin University
  • Dr Lien Pham — Lecturer in the Graduate Research School University of Technology Sydney

More details and registration here. 

Posted 30 August 2019