Successive Australian governments have addressed the issue of social inclusion and equity in higher education in a number of policies and reviews, the most recent being the Review of Australian Higher Education, the Bradley Review (Bradley et al. 2008); and the Review of Higher Education Access and Outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander People, the Behrendt Review (Behrendt et al. 2012). The Bradley Review noted that although there had been success in areas of gender inequity in higher education, students from regional and remote areas, Indigenous students and those from low SES backgrounds were still seriously under-represented. The Bradley Review also found that the major barriers to the participation of students from low SES backgrounds were educational attainment, lower awareness of the long term benefits of higher education, less aspiration to participate, and the potential need for extra financial, academic or personal support once enrolled. As a result of the Bradley Review the Australian Government’s policy Transforming Australia’s Higher Education System announced two targets for the higher education sector: that by 2020, 20% of undergraduate university students should be from low socio-economic backgrounds; and, that by 2025, 40% of 25-34 year olds should hold a bachelor degree. To support this policy, the Higher Education Participation and Partnerships Program (now rebadged Higher Education Participation Program) (HEPP) initiative came into being, with the participation component offering universities financial incentives to enroll and retain students from low SES backgrounds; and the partnerships component providing funding to raise student aspirations for higher education and working in partnership with other education institutions to do this (Gale & Parker 2013).
Frawley, J., Smith, J., & Larkin, S. (2015). Beyond Bradley and Behrendt: Building a stronger evidence-base about Indigenous pathways and transitions into higher education. Learning Communities: International Journal of Learning in Social contexts, 17(October 2015), 8-11. https://doi.org/10.18793/LCJ2015.17.01