112 research outputs found

    Equity, markets and the politics of aspiration in Australian higher education

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    This paper provides a critical discussion of contemporary policy agendas to raise aspirations for university study among students from low socio-economic status (SES) backgrounds. It traces the politics of aspiration from the working class 'poverty of desire' thesis propounded by British socialists at the turn of the twentieth century to recent concerns about the educational aspirations of low SES groups. These concerns are manifest in the current aspiration-raising agenda in Australian higher education, which aims to realise equity objectives by cultivating market-rational behaviour and dispositions to maximise self-investment in human capital. However, changes in contemporary global education and labour markets present significant obstacles to the 'good life' promises made by advocates of human capital theory, and even when these promises are realised, deficit constructions of aspirations persist. The paper identifies a tension in aspiration-raising logics between (1) human capital promises of economic rewards for enterprising behaviour and (2) the policing of aspirations and associated behaviours according to dominant social values

    Massaging desire : disadvantaged students\u27 aspirations for higher education.

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    Australia is in a challenging position. Having ridden the resources boom up and down, it now finds it has fallen back from the OECD pack in terms of the number of young adults (25 to 34 year olds) with higher education qualifications. This, coupled with a change of government, has prompted transformation in the Australian higher education system that will increasingly require research and policy to address students’ aspirations for university. Aspiration has long been considered an important condition for entry to higher education (Anderson, Boven, Fensham & Powell, 1980). However, recent policy reforms, specifically the setting of targets for significant increases in participation, now demand a rethinking of the concept. Across Australian universities, the current attainment rate for bachelor degrees among 25 to 34 year olds is around 32 per cent, while over the past twenty years the enrolment rate of students from low socioeconomic status (SES) backgrounds has stagnated at around 15 per cent (Commonwealth of Australia, 2009). In response to the Bradley Review of Australian Higher Education in 2008, the Australian Government has set ‘20/40 targets’ in a bid to increase low SES enrolment to 20 per cent by 2020, and to increase to 40 per cent by 2025 the number of 25 to 34 year olds holding bachelor degrees. This will require that around 220,000 additional students attain bachelor degrees by 2025. Given current levels of unmet demand for university entry, this overall increase in participation, and the proportional increase of low SES students in particular, will only be achievable by engaging with populations of potential students who do not currently seek university places

    Mobility, aspiration, voice : a new structure of feeling for student equity in higher education

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    There is a changed ‘structure of feeling’ emerging in higher education systems, particularly in OECD nations, in response to changed social, cultural and economic arrangements. Taking a student equity perspective, the paper names this change in terms of ‘mobility’, ‘aspiration’ and ‘voice’. It argues that (1) new kinds and degrees of mobility are now a significant factor in sustaining unequal access to and experience of higher education for different student groups, (2) despite government and institutional aspirations to expand higher education, students\u27 desires for university are not a given among new target populations and (3) while universities are seeking to enroll different students in greater numbers, the challenge now is how to give greater voice to this difference. Drawing on these themes of mobility, aspiration and voice and taking recent changes to higher education policy in Australia as the case, the paper presents a new conceptual framework for thinking about student equity in HE. The framework extends from established approaches that focus on barriers to accessing higher education in order to focus on people\u27s capacities in relation to higher education participation

    ‚ÄėThere was something about aspiration‚Äô: Widening participation policy affects in England and Australia

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    This paper discusses the emergence of aspiration as a keyword linked to higher education equity policy in England and Australia since 1997. Aspiration serves multiple purposes when constructed as a problematic site in which policy must intervene. For example, it can be understood as a vector for new technologies of governance that operate through the production of entrepreneurial dispositions; as a signifier for groups that have experienced upward social mobility; and as a personality trait that correlates with future earnings and thus can be defined as a dimension of human capital. It has also provided a rallying point for equity work in higher education. Focusing on English and Australian policy contexts, as well as the recent education work of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), we examine the different perspectives of a range of stakeholders on the strategy of ‚Äėraising aspiration‚Äô for higher education and how these have changed over time; the partnership work undertaken in the HE systems of both countries under the aegis of aspiration-raising policies; and recent policy developments in both contexts. In particular, we consider how aspiration-focused policies have affective effects on policy actors and seek to control affects directly by modulating feelings about capacities for action in the future. Two data sets provide the empirical basis for the paper: (a) document analysis of major equity policies in England since 1997 and in Australia since 2008, as well as a review of relevant OECD policy documents; and (b) analysis of nine interviews with equity practitioners and policy personnel in England, Australia, and located within the OECD

    Appreciating aspirations in Australian higher education

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    Aspiration for higher education (HE) is no longer a matter solely for students and their families. With OECD nations seeking to position themselves more competitively in the global knowledge economy, the need for more knowledge workers has led to plans to expand their HE systems to near universal levels. In Australia, this has required the government and institutions to enlist students who traditionally have not seen university as contributing to their imagined and desired futures. However, this paper suggests that failing to appreciate the aspirations of different groups, understood as a collective cultural capacity, casts doubt over the ability of institutions to deliver increased numbers of knowledge workers. Moreover, inciting subscription to the current norms of HE is a weak form of social inclusion. Stronger forms of equity strategy are possible when HE is repositioned as a resource for different groups and communities to access in the pursuit of their aspirations.<br /

    PISA for schools: topological rationality and new spaces of the OECD's global educational governance

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    This article examines the OECD‚Äôs new PISA-based Test for Schools (‚ÄúPISA for Schools‚ÄĚ) program. PISA for Schools is part of the expanding education work of the OECD, building upon main PISA to enable school-to-schooling system comparisons. We examine the development of PISA for Schools, the nature of the instrument, and some initial effects of its introduction. Our theoretical framework focuses on new spatialities associated with globalization and the emergence of topological rationalities and heterarchical modes of governance. We analyze 33 interviews with personnel at the OECD and relevant edu-businesses, not-for-profit organizations, and philanthropic foundations. Pertinent documents and web-based media are also analyzed. We suggest that PISA for Schools provides an exemplary demonstration of heterarchical governance, in which vertical policy mechanisms open up horizontal spaces for new policy actors. It also creates commensurate spaces of comparison and governance, enabling the OECD to ‚Äúreach into‚ÄĚ school-level spaces and directly influence local educational practices

    'There was something about aspiration': widening participation policy affects in England and Australia

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    This paper discusses the emergence of aspiration as a keyword linked to higher education equity policy in England and Australia since 1997. Aspiration serves multiple purposes when constructed as a problematic site in which policy must intervene. For example, it can be understood as a vector for new technologies of governance that operate through the production of entrepreneurial dispositions; as a signifier for groups that have experienced upward social mobility; and as a personality trait that correlates with future earnings and thus can be defined as a dimension of human capital. It has also provided a rallying point for equity work in higher education. Focusing on English and Australian policy contexts, as well as the recent education work of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), we examine the different perspectives of a range of stakeholders on the strategy of ‚Äėraising aspiration‚Äô for higher education and how these have changed over time; the partnership work undertaken in the HE systems of both countries under the aegis of aspiration-raising policies; and recent policy developments in both contexts. In particular, we consider how aspiration-focused policies have affective effects on policy actors and seek to control affects directly by modulating feelings about capacities for action in the future. Two data sets provide the empirical basis for the paper: (a) document analysis of major equity policies in England since 1997 and in Australia since 2008, as well as a review of relevant OECD policy documents; and (b) analysis of nine interviews with equity practitioners and policy personnel in England, Australia, and located within the OECD

    Becoming information centric: The emergence of new cognitive infrastructures in education policy

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    New cognitive infrastructures are emerging as digital platforms and artificial intelligence enable new forms of automated thinking that shape human decision-making. This paper (a) offers a new theoretical perspective on automated thinking in education policy and (b) illustrates how automated thinking is emerging in one specific policy context. We report on a case study of a policy analysis unit (‚ÄėThe Centre‚Äô) in an Australian state education department that has been implementing a BI strategy since 2013. The Centre is now focused on using BI to support complex decision making and improve learning outcomes, and their strategy describes this focus as becoming ‚Äėinformation centric‚Äô.The theoretical framework for our analysis draws on infrastructure studies and philosophy of technology, particularly Luciana Parisi‚Äôs recent work on automated thinking. We analyse technical documentation and semi-structured interview data to describe the enactment of a BI strategy in The Centre, with a focus on how new approaches to data analytics are shaping decision-making. Our analysis shows that The Centre is developing a cognitive infrastructure that is already creating new conditions for education policy making, and we conclude with a call for research designs that enable pragmatic exploration of what these infrastructures can do
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