“Becoming Different”: Accessing University From a Low Socioeconomic Community—Barriers and Motivators

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Access to tertiary education by individuals from low socio-economic backgrounds has been extremely low historically, despite policies to address this inequity. Twenty eight people from a low socio-economic community with almost the lowest rates of access to university in Australia were interviewed to identify the barriers they had encountered and the factors that had enabled them to access and complete a university qualification. Barriers reported occur both within the community, and external to, or on the boundary of the community. Internal barriers included lack of information about the existence of university or it's value for individuals, cultural beliefs about acceptable aspirations, a lack of role models within the community, and a lack of the opportunity to compare the impact of a university education on lifestyle, opportunities and options. Motivators identified are categorised as “nature of work”; “interest,” role models/comparisons” “competition/proving,” and “encouragement.”

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