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.

Authors, Laureate Professor Jenny Gore, Dr Sally Patfield, Dr Leanne Fray, Associate Professor Jess Harris, along with discussant Professor Sarah O’Shea, and book series editor Professor Greg Thompson launched this exciting new work at a special online event on Thursday 23 February 2023.

Watch the launch event here

Want to learn more about ‘Community Matters’?

The authors published this article in The Conversation which takes another deep dive into the research and some of the community case studies explored in the book.

Or, dive in completely. Copies of ‘Community Matters’ are available in e-book, paperback, and hardback formats.

Get your copy here

Aspirations professional development

Based on this decade of research, the University of Newcastle has developed two free online courses to support teachers and parents, carers, and community members develop their understanding of aspirations and provide practical strategies for nurturing aspirations of our young people.