Ladders of opportunity: Postgraduate equity, professions and the academic workforce

Sharon Bell, Robyn May

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


    This chapter focuses on student equity in postgraduate education and explores implications for the formation of the academic workforce. Participation and success in postgraduate education is of particular importance as it is an indicator, not only of completion of undergraduate studies, but of achievement at a high standard and also of likely employment outcomes. However postgraduate student equity profile data availability and relevance is highly variable by equity group. The dominant narrative around student equity in higher education continues to be framed by the population of undergraduate students. From the information available we know broadly that equity groups achieve success once they enter higher education but the degree to which this includes participation in postgraduate study, including research by higher degree, is contested. We also know that structural change in the sector is generating differential impacts and reshaping graduate opportunities. At the highest level of participation, the role of the doctorate as a gateway to the academic workforce is reaffirmed, but for an increasingly smaller proportion of graduates. Doctoral graduates and early career academics experience precarious work arrangements and, through a process of generational change, insecurity has replaced continuing or tenured employment. The impacts of structural change in the higher education sector affect graduate outcomes. This in turn impacts on the future composition of the academic workforce, which evidences a resilient tendency to reproduce itself and struggles to achieve diversity.

    Original languageEnglish
    Title of host publicationStudent Equity in Australian Higher Education
    Subtitle of host publicationTwenty-Five Years of a Fair Chance for All
    Place of PublicationAustralia
    Number of pages15
    ISBN (Electronic)9789811003158
    ISBN (Print)9789811003134
    Publication statusPublished - 2016


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