The widening participation agenda in higher education in Australia: theorizing a model of service delivery for non-academic Student Services to support university students from low socioeconomic backgrounds

White, Christie (2016) The widening participation agenda in higher education in Australia: theorizing a model of service delivery for non-academic Student Services to support university students from low socioeconomic backgrounds. [Thesis (PhD/Research)]

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Abstract

Australian higher education has historically been influenced by a variety of government agendas seeking to increase the proportion of students from low socioeconomic backgrounds (LSES students). It is generally acknowledged that socioeconomic status makes a difference to who accesses, and subsequently completes, university studies. LSES students may have complex social, economic, and cultural influences that impact on their student experience. Improving access to university for LSES students without ensuring that adequate supports are facilitating their subsequent retention and success is counterproductive. Student Services are non-academic university departments that are designed to build the personal resources of students, thereby aiding their retention and their subsequent success in university. In Australia, while there is some existing research to suggest that non-academic support services make a significant contribution to the student experience, there is little research that analyses the relationship between LSES students and Student Services. This doctoral thesis reports institutional research that aimed to develop a theory that informs Student Services planning and service delivery to LSES students. Using Charmaz’s (2006) constructivist approach to grounded theory methodology, 17 LSES students and three staff members were interviewed at three campuses of an Australian regionally headquartered university. Insight was gained into LSES students’ experiences of accessing Student Services. Consistent with the explicit purpose of grounded theory to generate substantive theory, this study developed the theory of trusting networks, which was informed by the construction of four categories: needing support; complicating factors; trusting networks; and making success. The emergent substantive theory evolved around what became a core, keystone category, trusting networks. The theory of trusting networks provides an understanding of the processes employed by LSES students to seek support and advice. This theory updates components of Bourdieu’s (1997) theory of social capital and its applicability to the Australian 21st century context, particularly LSES students in Australian higher education. This study makes significant contributions to theoretical, practical, and methodological knowledge. The substantive theory that has emerged from this research is an important contribution to the development and enhancement of Student Services in Australia.


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Item Type: Thesis (PhD/Research)
Item Status: Live Archive
Additional Information: Doctor of Education (EdD) thesis.
Faculty / Department / School: Current - USQ Other
Supervisors: Lewis, Marian; Aravinthan, Thiru
Date Deposited: 20 Apr 2017 04:50
Last Modified: 20 Apr 2017 04:50
Uncontrolled Keywords: higher education; Australia; university students; low socioeconomic backgrounds; Student Services
Fields of Research : 13 Education > 1301 Education Systems > 130103 Higher Education
URI: http://eprints.usq.edu.au/id/eprint/31377

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