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Positive school experiences drive equity students’ university enrolment

A new study, funded by the NCSEHE and led by Dr Wojtek Tomaszewski from the University of Queensland, has shown that career guidance and positive school experiences have a significant bearing on equity students’ propensity to enrol in tertiary education.

The study found that high school students from low socioeconomic backgrounds and regional and remote areas benefited more from career advice and positive student-teacher relations than their non-equity counterparts. These factors were all strong predictors of subsequent university enrolment.


Since Australia’s shift into a post-industrial economy and a post-modern society, the early life-course trajectories of young Australians have become more diverse and less structured. From the early 1990s, the increasing availability and popularity of Vocational Education and Training (VET) programs and the expansion of low-skilled, entry-level service jobs have created attractive alternatives to university for many young people. However, these changes have not been randomly distributed across social strata. Instead, it has been documented that emerging options acting as alternatives to tertiary education have been disproportionately chosen by young people from disadvantaged backgrounds.

It is of paramount importance that we understand the complex choices that young people in Australia face when deciding whether or not to enrol in university, the factors influencing such decisions, and whether or not these mechanisms operate differently for young people from advantaged and disadvantaged social strata.

Two important school factors which are strongly associated with young people’s chances of enrolling in university are career advice and guidance and school experiences. These factors have been shown to have a substantial influence on young people’s post-school outcomes, including their university participation. However, while the international evidence from countries such as the United States, the United Kingdom and Germany is rapidly growing, few studies have addressed this issue in the Australian context.


This report addressed important gaps in knowledge in the Australian context concerning the issues discussed above. Specifically, it answered the following research questions:

• How is equity group membership associated with students’ likelihood to enrol into university in contemporary Australia?
• How are (secondary) school factors (i.e. career guidance and school experiences) associated with students’ likelihood to enrol into university in contemporary Australia?
• Are the impacts of school factors on university enrolment different for young people from equity and non-equity groups?

Read more here.

Media release

Posted 31 March 2017 Posted in Culturally and linguistically diverse, General, Low SES, Regional, rural and remote