22 SES 09 B, Inclusion and Diversity in Higher Education Settings
There is international concern relating to access and opportunity in Higher Education, particularly for those from traditionally marginalized groups (Council of Europe, 1996; Rougaas, 2001). In Australia, the Government has recently established targets to increase the proportion of Australian 25–34-year-olds with a Bachelor degree to 40% by 2025 and the proportion of undergraduate enrolments from low-socioeconomic backgrounds to 20% by 2020 (Gillard, 2009). The drive towards equity and social cohesion in tertiary education is a clear political goal internationally (OECD, 2008, Rougaas, 2001; ) with significant policy congruence across Europe, the USA and Australia (Ball, 1998).
However, longitudinal studies in the USA (Tinto, 2006-7) Australia (Kift, Nelson & Clarke, 2010) and Europe (UK) suggest that concerted government and individual institutional efforts are piecemeal or have made minimal difference to overall retention and completion rates of students from traditionally marginalized groups. Furthermore, the intent and effectiveness of these interventions have been brought into question (Osborne, 2003)This ‘wicked’ international problem seems resistant to focused policy interventions suggesting, as argued by Gale (2009), that a more fundamental shift is required in how tertiary institutions might be more responsive to increasing diversity.
Like Kift et al. (2010) and Krause et al. (2005), Gale (2009) focuses on the student learning environment as the site or “glue that holds knowledge and the broader student experience together” (McInnis, 2001)” and consequently where issues of exclusion and embodied knowledge may best be addressed. However, unlike these researchers, Gale advocates
a more sophisticated approach to student equity and social inclusion [that] entails the creation of space in higher education not just for new kinds of student bodies but also for their embodied knowledges and ways of knowing … [that] has relevance for the epistemologies of all socio-cultural groups. (2009, p.14)
Higher education institutions and researchers have become increasingly interested in how and why tertiary education systems tend to reproduce privilege (Bourdieu & Passeron, 1977; Teese, 2011). Sellar and Gale (2011) after Connell (2007) posit that real student engagement necessarily involves a shift towards ‘epistemological equity’ (Dei, 2008) “…from a politics of representation ( of population groups and particular interests) to a politics of recognition (of knowledges and ways of knowing in addition to Eurocentric forms). This conceptual framework resonates strongly with a design-thinking orientation to pragmatic ways in which universities might rethink and reshape their approaches.
Taking up Sellar and Gale’s (2011) proposition, this paper analyses data collected in the development and implementation of a whole-of-institution Transition Framework for commencing students at one Australian university which used a design-thinking oriented methodological approach to try to disrupt the dominant institutional paradigms at work. In particular, attention is paid to the epistemologies and institutional policies and practices that work as powerful technologies (Ball, 2003) in maintaining a dominant culture.
Ball, S.J. (1998). Big policies small world: an introduction to international perspectives in education policy. Comparative Education (34), (2), pp.119-130. Ball, S.J. (2003) The Teacher’s Soul and the Terrors of Performativity, Journal of Education Policy, 18(2), pp.215-228. Bourdieu, P. & Passeron, J-C (1997). Reproduction in education, society and culture. Chicago. University of Chicago Press. Bradley, D., Noonan, P., Nugent, H., & Scales, B. (2008). Review of Australian higher education: Connell, R. (2007). Southern Theory: The Global Dynamics of Knowledge In Social Science, Crows Nest, N.S.W.: Allen & Unwin. Dei, G.J. Sefa (2008). Indigenous Knowledge Studies and the Next Generation: Pedagogical Possibilities for Anti-Colonial Education. The Australian Journal of Indigenous Education (37S) pp. 5-13 Gale, T. (2011): New capacities for student equity and widening participation in higher education, Critical Studies in Education (52), (2) pp.109-113 Gillard, J. (2009, March). Ministerial keynote address. Paper presented at the Australian FinancialReview Higher Education Conference, Sydney. Jones, R. (2008). Student retention and success: a synthesis of research. Retrieved Jan 31 2013 from www.heacademy.ac.uk/evidencenet Kift, S., Nelson, K. & Clarke, J. (2010). Transition Pedagogy: A third generation approach to FYE – A case study of policy and practice for the higher education sector. The International Journal of the First Year inHigher Education, 1(1), 1-20. Krause, K., Hartley, R., James, R., & McInnis, C. (2005). The first year experience in Australian universities: Findings from a decade of national studies. Canberra: Australian Department of Education, Science and Training Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development. (2008). Education at a glance 2008:OECD indicators. Paris: OECD. Osborne, M. (2003) Increasing or widening participation in higher education? - a European overview. European Journal of Education, 38 (1). pp. 5-24. Tinto, V (2006-2007). Research and practice of student retention: what next? J. College Student Retention, (8), (1), pp.1-19.
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