This report reviews available literature and data relating to the participation and success of people from low socioeconomic status (SES) backgrounds and Indigenous people in Australian higher education, including information on school achievement and retention where this is relevant to access to higher education. Where data are available they are reported for both urban low SES people and rural/remote low SES people. The analysis does not include international students. The report also contains a broadbrush summary of the equity activities and initiatives of Australian universities and a summary of equity policies, programs and trends in selected nations, in particular United Kingdom, USA and Canada.
The purpose of the report is to shed light on the factors associated with the persistent underrepresentation of low SES people and Indigenous people in Australian universities with a view to informing policies and strategies and providing a framework for further analysis of equity for people from low SES backgrounds. The report includes a summary of barriers and inhibiting factors as well as suggestions for possible ways of defining and measuring socioeconomic status for higher education purposes. Recommendations for future work are also proposed.
Universities Australia has also released an action plan drawing on this report.