To aspire: a systematic reflection on understanding aspirations in higher education

Gale, T. and Parker, S. (2015) To aspire: a systematic reflection on understanding aspirations in higher education. Australian Educational Researcher, 42(2), pp. 139-153. (doi:10.1007/s13384-014-0165-9)

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Aspirations for higher education by people from low socioeconomic status backgrounds are now a focus of government policy in many OECD nations. This is part of a global trend emphasizing the perceived benefits of ‘raising’ aspirations among under-represented groups as a social inclusion strategy to widen university participation, but also ultimately as a strategy to increase national competitiveness in the global knowledge economy. Yet despite its importance, aspiration tends to carry simplistic meanings in much higher education policy and practice. This paper attempts to craft a more nuanced account of the term, informed by four concept-clusters derived from sociological and philosophical literatures and research, and with a more mutual relation of public and private interests. It complements this ‘intellectual craftsmanship’ or ‘systematic reflection’ (Mills in The sociological imagination, 1959) with data drawn from a future-focused survey of secondary school students from low and low-mid socioeconomic status backgrounds in regional Australia. Results from the survey provide illustrations that help expand understandings of student aspirations for higher education, from a group presumed to be deficit in aspirations.

Item Type:Articles
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Gale, Professor Trevor and Parker, Stephen
Authors: Gale, T., and Parker, S.
College/School:College of Social Sciences > School of Education
Journal Name:Australian Educational Researcher
ISSN (Online):2210-5328

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