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Mobilising aspirations. Aspirant mobility. Trevor Gale, National Centre for Student Equity in Higher Education. A new conception of student equity in higher education. Aspiration. Mobility. Knowledge politics. possibility desirability. territory proximity. archive resource.

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Mobilising aspirations. Aspirant mobility

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Mobilising aspirations.Aspirant mobility

Trevor Gale, National Centre for Student Equity in Higher Education

A new conception of student equity in higher education











A working conception of aspiration

People’s aspirations – what they desire to be / do / have, mediated by what they understand as possible to be / do / have, and vice versa – are informed by their socio-cultural archives of possible and desirable lives and are mobilized by the possibility of their access to desirable social, cultural and economic resources

Archives are the documented re-collections of events and experiences, more specifically, the collective memories and understandings ascribed to these, which inform future imaginings. In this sense, “the archive is itself an aspiration” (Appadurai p. 16).

Resources (capitals) are distinguishable by their quantity and quality; the extent to which individuals and groups have access to them and the extent to which the forms of resources (capitals) they have access to are recognized as valuable. Their accumulation take an investment of time and in association with those already in their possession.


University of South Australia

For many graduates,

moving away

provides the kind

of experiences that

build a career

Autumn 2010

Around the world

but back again

No place like


Mobility: social, geographical, virtual

  • HE attainment linked to social and geographical mobility

  • Employment success (and social and economic status) is linked to geographical mobility

  • Mobility contributes to the production of the archive, by providing access to different events and experiences, and hence strengthening the capacity to aspire

  • Mobility itself becomes an aspiration

  • Raising aspirations involves displacement (for low SES, Indigenous peoples, as well as regional / rural) – social and geographical

Participation in higher education in 2006

Basis for admission to university:

46.8% prior school

10.1% prior VET

23.2% prior HE

5.5% mature age special entry

11.6% other

15 to 24 year olds in 2006

Participation in HE by age, in 2006:

15-24 year olds

436,396 or 60%

25-34 year olds

168,727 or 22%

35-60 year olds

133,945 or 18%

Source: 2006 ABS Census of Population and Housing

Higher education attainment

(uni qualification)

in 2006

In 2008

32% of 25-34 year olds with Bachelor degree or above

Aus Gov Target:

40% in 2025

5 to 14 year olds in 2006

17 to 26 year olds

In 2020

Socioeconomic status, HE quals and distance to SA unis by SLA

People living in low SES areas 6 kms from their nearest university campus are four times more likely to hold a HE qualification than people living in low SES areas 14kms from their nearest (and same) university campus.

Concepts for constituting mobility in HE?territory: bounded space; proximity: nearness of place

  • Victoria University to shut campuses in Melton, Sunbury. “Victoria University’s vice chancellor Professor Elizabeth Harman said the university was carrying many small courses in higher education [which were] failing to attract student numbers” (Moorabool Leader, 17 Oct 2008)

  • Monash Gippsland struggling to attract student numbers

  • “University is not for everyone” Mayor of low SES area with very low HE participation

  • Of all people who live in Greater Western Sydney and participate in HE, only 40% are enrolled at UWS; most travel out of the area to attend university (DVC UWS)

The socio-economic appeal of mobility

  • “… mobility has become the most powerful and most coveted stratifying factor” (Bauman 1998: 71)

  • Ex-territorial in nature

  • Disconnection of power from obligations

  • Free-floating, locally unbound capital

  • Freedom from the constraints of locality

  • Liquid resources

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