Enabling and changing lives: Stakeholders who affect and are affected by the enabling initiative

Rosalie Bunn, Annika Westrenius


Higher education is undergoing significant change; with efforts to widen access and participation, new stakeholders become engaged and perceptions and expectations within the sector shift. In recent years, an increasing number of ‘enabling’ programs have been established to prepare non-traditional students for tertiary study. These programs occupy a special place within the sector as they reach out to a relatively new cohort of students who have not previously engaged with higher education, thereby engaging ‘new’ stakeholders in the sector. This paper considers the diverse, complex and intersecting perspectives, expectations and agendas that various stakeholders bring to the enabling initiative by reviewing literature on stakeholders in higher education generally and drawing on research data collected from one enabling program at the University of Newcastle, Australia. By understanding stakeholder perspectives, a clearer picture of the tensions and conflicting expectations within this field emerges. Although enabling programs are sometimes seen as a cost by both funding bodies and providers, an emerging body of research shows that they are a valuable investment in developing solutions to economic and social problems.


enabling education, market and non-market stakeholders, value, higher education

Full Text:



Alves, H., Mainardes, E. W., & Raposo, M. (2010). A relationship approach to higher education institution stakeholder management. Tertiary Education and Management, 16(3), 159-181.

Australian Government. (2017). The Higher Education Reform Package. Canberra.

Bagchi-Sen, S., & Smith, H. L. (2012). The role of the university as an agent of regional economic development. Geography Compass, 6(7), 439-453.

Baldwin, G., & James, R., (2000). The market in Australian Higher Education and the concept of student as informed consumer. Journal of Higher Education and Policy and Management, 22(2), 139-148.

Barnet, K. (2011). System members at odds: anaging divergent perspectives in the higher education change process. Journal of Higher Education Policy and Management, 33(2), 131-140.

Baron, D. P. (2013). Business and its environment. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson.

Bennett, A., Harvey, A., & Fagan, S. (2017, May 18). Programs that prepare students for university study may no longer be free, The Conversation. Retrieved from https://theconversation.com/programs-that-prepare-students-for-university-study-may-no-longer-be-free-77851

Bolton, D., & Nie, R. (2010). Creating value in transnational higher education: The role of stakeholder management. Academy of Management Learning and Education, 9(4), 701-714.

Bourdieu, P. (1986). The Forms of Capital. In J. G. Richardson (Ed.), Handbook of theory and research for the sociology of education. New York: Greenwood.

Bunn, R. (2013). "I wanted to prove I had a brain ... and give my life a purpose": Preliminary analysis of survey responses of former Open Foundation students on their lives before, during and after completing the program. Paper presented at the Flexibility: Pathways to Participation, 5th National Association of Enabling Educators of Australia conference, Australian Catholic University, Melbourne, Victoria.

Bunn, R. (2014). Reasons people enrol in Tertiary Preparation courses. Paper presented at the Foundation and Bridging Educators New Zealand annual conference.

Bunn, R. (2016). Restructuring the Habitus: The case of Open Foundation students with a (dis)ability. Paper presented at the Foundation and Bridging Educators New Zealand annual conference.

Cadence Economics. (2016). The Graduate Effect: Higher Education spillovers to the Australian workforce. Report for Universities Australia.

Christensen, C. M., & Overdorf, M. (2000). Meeting the challenge of disruptive change. Harvard Business Review, 78(2), 66-76.

Crane, A., & Ruebottom, T. (2011). Stakeholder theory and social identity: Rethinking stakeholder identification. Journal of Business Ethics, 102(1), 77-87.

Crawford, N., Johns, S., Jarvis, L., Hawkins, C., Harris, M., & McCormack, D. (2015). Foundations for change, confidence, and new opportunities: impacts of a university enabling program in north-west Tasmania. Handbook and Proceedings Students Transitions Achievement Retention and Success (STARS) conference, 1-4 July, Melbourne, Australia (pp. 130-131).

Crawford, N., Lisciandro, J., Jones, A., Jaceglav, M., McCall, D., Bunn, R., . . . Andersen, S. (2016). Models of support for student wellbeing in enabling programs: Comparisons, contrasts and commonalities at four Australian universities. Paper presented at the Foundation and Bridging Educators Conference New Zealand annual conference.

Department of Education and Training. (2016). Commonwealth Grant Scheme (CGS). Retrieved from https://www.education.gov.au/commonwealth-grant-scheme-cgs

Department of Education and Training. (2017a). Higher Education Loan Program (HELP). Retrieved from https://www.education.gov.au/higher-education-loan-program-help

Department of Education and Training. (2017b). Funding. Retrieved from


Department of Education and Training. (2017c). The Australian Qualifications Framework. Canberra: The Australian Government. Retrieved from https://www.aqf.edu.au/aqf/what-is-the-aqf/

Drucker, P. F. (1999). Knowledge-worker productivity: The biggest challenge. California Management Review, 41(2), 79-94.

Dunham, L., Freeman, R. E., & Liedtka, J. (2006). Enhancing Stakeholder Practice: A Particularized Exploration of Community. Business Ethics Quarterly, 16(1), 23-42.

Ey, Carol. (2017). Higher education reform: Budget Review 2017–18 Index. Retrieved from


Freeman, R. E. (1984). Strategic management, A stakeholder approach. Marshfield, MA: Pitman.

Garlick, S. (2000). Engaging universities and regions: Knowledge contribution to regional economic development in Australia. Canberra: Department of Education, Training and Youth Affairs.

Gerritsen, R. (2016). A test of the role of universities in regional development: The case of internation aedcation students in the Northern territory. Australasian Journal of Regional Studies, 22(1), 125-157.

Horn, A., Maddox, A., Hagel, P., Currie, M., & Owen, S. (2013). Embedded library services: Beyond chance encounters for students from low SES backgrounds. Australian Academic & Research Libraries, 44(4), 235–250.

Kalman, Y. M. (2014). A race to the bottom: MOOCs and higher education business models. Open Learning, 29(1), 5-14.

Kavida, V., & Sivakoumar, N. (2009) Intellectual capital: A strategic management perspective. IUP Journal of Knowledge Management, 7(5/6), 55-69.

Kettunen, J. (2015). Stakeholder relationships in higher education. Tertiary Education and Management, 21(1), 56-65.

Knowles, M. S., Holton III, E. F., & Swanson, R. A. (2005). The Adult Learner (6th ed.). Burlington, MA: Elsevier.

Lin, C. Y-Y., & Edvinsson, L. (2011). National Intellectual Capital: A Comparison of 40 Countries. New York: Springer.

Lucas, H. (2014). Viewpoint: Disrupting and transforming the univerisity. Communications of the ACM, 57(10), 32-34.

Mainardes, E. W., Raposo, M., & Alves, H. (2014). Universities need a market orientation to attract non-traditional stakeholders as new financing sources. Public Organization Review, 14, 159-171.

Marginson, S. (1997). Markets in Education. Australia: Allen & Unwin.

Marginson, S. (2006). Dynamics of national and global competition in higher education. Higher Education 52, 1-39.

Maric, I. (2013). Stakeholder analysis of higher education institutions. Interdisciplinary Description of Complex Systems, 11(2), 217-226.

McGhee, A., Ross, M., & Elvery, S. (2017). Federal budget 2017: Winners and losers. Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC). Retrieved from


McGrath, V. (2009). Reviewing the Evidence on How Adult Students Learn: An Examination of Knowles' Model of Andragogy. The Irish Journal of Adult and Community Education, 99, 110.

McVea, J. F., & Freeman, R. E. (2005). A names-and-faces approach to stakeholder management. Journal of Managment Inquiry, 14(1), 57-69.

Mezirow, J. (1978). Perspective transformation. Adult Education Quarterly, 28(2), 100-110.

Miller, K., McAdam, M., & McAdam, R. (2014). The changing university business model: A stakeholder perspective. R&D Management, 44(3), 265-287.

Mitchell, R.K., Agle, B.R., & Wood, D.J. (1997). Toward a theory of stakeholder identification and salience: Defining the principles of who and what really counts. The Academy of Management Review, 22(4), 853-886.

Orr, D., & Hovdhaugen, E. (2014). 'Second chance' routes into higher education: Sweden, Norway and Germany compared. International Journal of Lifelong Education, 33(1), 45-61.

Örtenblad, A., & Koris, R. (2014). Is the learning organization idea relevant to higher education: A literature review and a 'multi-stakeholder contingency approach'. International Journal of Education Management, 28(2), 173-214.

Phillips, N. (2014, September 2). From clever to complacent: Australia falling behind on innovation, says chief scientist. Sydney Morning Herald.

Pitman, T., Trinidad, S., Devlin, M., Harvey, A., Brett, M., & McKay, J. (2016). Pathways to higher education: The efficacy of enabling and sub-bachelor pathways for disadvantaged students. Report for the Australian Government Department of Education and Training. Retrieved from https://www.ncsehe.edu.au/publications/pathways-to-higher-education-the-efficacy-of-enabling-and-sub-bachelor-pathways-for-disadvantaged-students/?doing_wp_cron=1490072437.3549759387969970703125

Radjenovic, T., & Krstic, B., (2017). Measuring intellectual capital of national economics. Economica, 63(2), 31-43.

Ramsay, E. (2004). Blurring the boundaries and re-thinking the categories: Implications of enabling education for the mainstream post compulsory sector. Australian Journal of Adult Learning, 44(3), 273-305.

Reay, D. (2004). Education and Cultural Capital: The implications of changing trends in education policies. Cultural Trends, 50, 73-86.

Rodman, K., Biloslavo, R., & Bratoz, S. (2013). Institutional quality of a higher education institution from the perspective of employers. Minerva, 51, 71-92.

Shah, M., & Whannell, R. (2017). Open access enabling courses: risking academic standards or meeting equity aspirations. Perspectives: Policy and Practice in Higher Education, 21(2-3), 51-62.

Smith, W. K. (2014). Dynamic decision making: A model of senior leaders managing strategic paradoxes. Academy of Management Journal, 57(6), 1592-1623.

Ståhle, P., Ståhle, S., & Lin, C.Y.Y. (2015). Intangibles and national economic wealth – A new perspective on how they are linked. Journal of Intellectual Capital, 16(1), 20-57.

Strauf, S., & Scherer, R. (2008). Universities and their contribution to regional evelopment. Transformations in Business & Economics, 7(13), 137-151.

Storey, V., & Asadoorian III, M. O. (2014). The political sense of urgency for educational leadership preparation programs to show impact data. NCPEA International Journal of Educational Leadership Preparation, 9(1).

Ulmer, R. R., Sellnow, T. L., & Seeger, M. W. (2007). Effective crisis communication: Moving from crisis to opportunity. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

University of Newcastle. (2015). Equity and Excellence. Retrieved from https://www.newcastle.edu.au/about-uon/our-university/equity-and-excellence

University of Newcastle. (2017). Other Pathways and Study Options. Retrieved from https://www.newcastle.edu.au/future-students/undergraduate-study/other-pathways-and-study-options

University of New England. (2017). Pathways Enabling Course. Retrieved from https://my.une.edu.au/courses/courses/ENABLE

University of Notre Dame Australia. (2017). Tertiary Pathway Program. Retrieved from https://www.nd.edu.au/academic_support/tertiary-enabling-program

University of Tasmania. (2017). Preparation and Enabling Programs. Retrieved from https://www.utas.edu.au/future-students/preparation-programs.

University of Wollongong. (2017). First in Family. Retrieved from https://www.firstinfamily.com.au/teaching.phpm

Vincent-Lancrin, S. (2008). What is the impact of demography on higher education systems?: a forward-looking approach for OECD countries. Higher Education to 2030, Volume 1: Demography. The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development [OECD].

Westrenius, A. (2015). Stakeholders in small business: Critical relationships for value creation. (Doctoral Dissertation). Retrieved from https://nova.newcastle.edu.au

Whiteford, G., Shah, M., & Nair, S. (2013). Equity and excellence are not mutually exclusive. A discussion of academic standards in an era of widening participation. Quality Assurance in Education, 21(3), 299-310.

Wright, D. (1992). Looking Back: A history of the University of Newcastle. Callaghan, Australia: University of Newcastle.


  • There are currently no refbacks.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.


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