Getting into Uni in England and Australia: who you know, what you know or knowing the ropes?

Geoff Whitty, Neville Clement



Both England and Australia have displayed strong social democratic traditions in their approaches to higher education expansion in the second half of the twentieth century, but are now continuing that expansion as part of a ‘neo-liberal’ reform agenda. This paper traces how the rhetoric of widening participation and equitable access to higher education has remained a key feature of policy discourse in both contexts, albeit with different inflections and effects over time and indeed between the two countries. It also shows how the longstanding relationship between higher education and social and cultural reproduction has endured despite a series of ‘social democratic’ and ‘neo-liberal’ policy initiatives that have ostensibly sought to weaken that link. It concludes that more needs to be done if the rhetoric of equity and social justice is to impact upon the reality of contemporary higher education in these two countries.


England; Australia; higher education; access; widening participation

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Banner image: Kira Jovanovski (2020), movement score 01 (detail): oil stick and acrylic on paper. Photograph by Kira Jovanovski. Cover image: Kira Jovanovski (2020), grunt_iteration 02 in the boughs and stamped: installation in University Gallery. Photograph by Jedidiah Cranfield. (c) the artist.





This journal is published on the lands of the Pambalong Clan of the Awabakal People.

ISSN 2653-245X