Geographic location a significant predictor of students’ intentions to attend university
New research shows that students from regional and remote areas are significantly less likely to report an intent to study at university when compared to students in metropolitan areas.
The study, funded by the National Centre for Student Equity in Higher Education at Curtin University and led by Dr Grant Cooper from RMIT University, contributes to existing data indicating that geographical location categories in Australia significantly predict students’ intentions to go to university.
Drawing from data gathered from the Longitudinal Surveys of Australian Youth (LSAY), the study investigates whether distance is a predictor of students’ intentions to attend university, net of selected demographic and psycho-social variables.
“Before analysis was undertaken, the researchers identified variables from the LSAY dataset that may act as proxies for the psycho-social variables used in this study,” said Dr Cooper. “The data was then used to examine intentions from students in three areas: metropolitan, provincial and remote.”
“Following statistical modelling, researchers found that students from regional and remote areas were significantly less likely to report an intent to study at university when compared to students in the metropolitan category. Results suggested that students located further from the city were less likely to report an intention to study at university.”
“While factors are likely to be complex and interwoven, even when controlling for the effect of socio-economic status, this report found geographical location to be a significant predictor of students’ intentions to study at university.”
NCSEHE Director Professor Sue Trinidad emphasised the importance of addressing the challenges faced by regional and remote students participating in higher education.
“Alongside the geographic barriers experienced by regional and remote students, there is a complex relationship between socio-economic status, access to information, and normative influences which can affect students’ intentions to participate in higher education. Examining the effect of geographic barriers in isolation is a complex, but significant, area of research,” Professor Trinidad said.
Dr Cooper concluded that improving geographical access to higher education is a partial solution to increasing regional and remote students’ intentions to pursue higher education.
“Increased access to higher education in regional and remote Australia is one component of a multi-faceted approach to tackling the barriers that commonly impact students’ participation,” Dr Cooper said.
The full report, Access to higher education: Does distance impact students’ intentions to attend university?, is available on the NCSEHE website.
Read more here.