1st Edition

Community Matters The Complex Links Between Community and Young People's Aspirations for Higher Education

    150 Pages 22 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    150 Pages 22 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    Working towards equity of access to higher education remains a fundamental issue of social justice. Despite substantial efforts to redress historical exclusions via a wealth of government and institutional policies, longstanding enrolment patterns persist and new forms of inequality have emerged in a deeply stratified system.

    Community Matters: The Complex Links Between Community and Young People’s Aspirations for Higher Education offers a new lens on equity of access. The policy focus, nationally and globally, on widening participation for under-represented target groups too readily treats such groups as if they have a singular voice, a singular history, and a singular set of concerns. Drawing on the perspectives of Australian school students, their parents/carers, teachers, and a vast array of residents from seven diverse communities, this book uses the lens of ‘community’ to reframe inequitable access. It does so by recognising the complex social and cultural forces at play locally that shape how young people form and articulate their post-school futures.

    In light of unprecedented challenges facing the higher education sector, this book interrogates dominant understandings of ‘widening participation’ and ‘aspiration,’ and offers timely insights about the broader economic, social, and cultural backdrop of aspiration formation. It is a valuable resource for academics and students interested in the sociology of higher education and for practitioners working at the forefront of equity policy and practice. 

    1.Introduction 2. Conceptualising community 3. When university is taken-for-granted: The pressures of social reproduction and mobility 4. When access to university campuses is not enough: The possibility and desirability of higher education 5. On the (im)possibility and (un)desirability of raising university aspirations in rural communities 6. Shaping student aspirations: Why community matters Appendix 1, Appendix 2


    Jennifer Gore is a Laureate Professor in Education and Director of the Teachers and Teaching Research Centre at the University of Newcastle. Her academic interests have consistently centred on quality and equity, ranging across such topics as reform in teacher education, pedagogical change, professional development, and student aspirations.

    Sally Patfield is a Senior Research Fellow with the Teachers and Teaching Research Centre at the University of Newcastle. Sally has more than 15 years’ experience working in various educational contexts, including as a primary teacher in NSW public schools and across professional and academic roles in higher education. Sally’s research focuses on the sociology of education, social inequalities, and educational transitions.

    Leanne Fray is a Senior Research Fellow in Education at the University of Newcastle. A former teacher, Leanne has extensive experience in qualitative and mixed methods research and has worked on projects across such disciplines as health, education, and social science. Her research interests include improving student access and participation in post-secondary education.

    Jess Harris is an Associate Professor in the School of Education at the University of Newcastle. As a qualitative researcher, her research interests include issues of equity, educational leadership, and higher education.

    "This clear and engaging book draws on rich, extensive mixed-methods data to critically interrogate ideas of 'aspiration'. Showing how communities’ matter in complex ways for the possibility and desirability of young people's access to higher education, this is a thoughtful and valuable resource for researchers and policy-makers alike."

    Professor Louise Archer, Karl Mannheim Professor of Sociology of Education, University College London (UK)

    "This timely publication draws upon the innovative lens of ‘community’ to unpack the diverse and negotiated ways aspirations play out in young people's lives. If you are passionate about supporting youth in realising their dreams, this book provides insights into the ways community resources can be leveraged to ensure that young people's desired educational and professional futures are both enabled and realised."

    Professor Sarah O’Shea, Director, National Centre for Student Equity in Higher Education, Curtin University (Australia)