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Rural Students @University

Chief Investigator/s: Philip Roberts, Amanda Edwards


This research program explores the challenges rural, regional and remote students face in gaining entry to university and their subsequent experiences. The research aims to help make university transitions simpler for rural, regional and remote students and to enhance their achievement once they begin their studies, by minimising the obstacles they may face. From an academic perspective the program examines the disjuncture between rural, regional and remote students knowledges and the knowledges they encounter in gaining entry and when at university. As such the social constructing of knowledge, social and cultural capitals, and university knowledge as knowledge of the global metrople are foundational concepts.

In this program we work in partnership with Widening Participation at the University of Canberra. We lead an international project investigating the socio-cultural experiences of rural students at university. This project aims to begin to understand how a rural upbringing may influence students’ experiences. Notions of social and cultural capital, knowledges, and experiences moving from a rural area to a university across different locations, institutional status, and national contexts will be explored. The objective is to understand how the experiences of students who grew up in rural areas may differ, to help inform Higher Education equity policy. the project team includes academics from the Australian National University, University of Sydney and University of New England. We are also working in collaboration with Guangzhou University, China, on an interlinked comparative study. The China component of this collaborative research is led by Dr Ailei Xie of the Bay Area Education Policy Institute for Social Development, Guangzhou University, Guangzhou, China.

Our team is also part of two collaborative projects. The first is led by the University of Sydney, with the NSW Department of Education, the University of Canberra, the University of Wollongong and the Country Education Foundation focussed on ‘Reinventing the Gap Year’ aimed at reducing gap year attrition in university matriculation. The second project is led by the University of Wollongong, with the University of Canberra, University of Tasmania, Macquarie University, University of New South Wales and the Australian Catholic University focussed on higher education careers advice for low SES and rural students.

Research Approach:

The socio-cultural experiences of rural students at university project uses a focus group methodology, transcript analysis and comparative analysis. The collaborative projects also use focus group approaches and trial a number of tools.

Related Publications:

This project has just begun.