Aspiring to higher education in regional and remote Australia: the diverse emotional and material realities shaping young people’s futures
Skye Gibson, Sally Patfield, Jennifer M. Gore and Leanne Fray
Originally published in The Australian Educational Researcher
28 July 2021
Students from regional and remote areas remain significantly under-represented in higher education despite decades of equity policy designed to encourage participation. One explanation is that policy initiatives often overlook the realities in local rural contexts that can make higher education less desirable. Applying the theoretical lens of ‘doxic’ and ‘habituated’ aspirations, this paper analyzes interviews with 13 students, 10 parents/carers, and 4 teachers from one regional and one remote community in NSW, Australia. We document the emotional and material realities shaping young people’s imagined futures in these communities, highlighting the commitment to a rural lifestyle in one, and the desire to escape the other community in decline. We argue that developing successful initiatives to address equitable participation in higher education requires a departure from hegemonic discourses of ‘rurality’ and greater recognition of and respect for the diverse needs and desires of regional and remote students.
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