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More students in higher ed, but it’s no more representative

Written by Tim Pitman for The Conversation

The 2013 student data has been released, which includes information on access for groups of students under-represented in higher education. Lately, most of the attention has been on students from low socio-economic backgrounds, and whether or not the implementation of the demand driven system – or uncapping the number of domestic undergraduate places – has improved access for them by increasing supply and reducing competition.

It has. This is vindication of the demand driven system – and the efforts within the sector – to improve accessibility for this group in both actual and proportional terms.

However, there are five more groups of students officially classified as disadvantaged, for the purposes of “equity”. Not all of these groups have found the demand driven system has been as positive for them. In fact, some have found their slice of the pie getting smaller. The other groups are:

  • Students from a non-English-speaking background
  • Students with a disability
  • Women in non-traditional areas of study (IT, engineering, architecture, agriculture, business or related studies)
  • Indigenous students
  • Students from a regional or remote background.

What do the numbers say?

The Department of Education recently updated its higher education student data. This shows us how equity groups are faring under the demand-driven system, which was fully implemented in 2012, although legislated in 2010. The percentages show each group’s share of the higher education “pie”.

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Posted 28 July 2014 Posted in Disability, Editorial, General, Indigenous, Low SES, Regional