The current student equity framework for higher education (HE) in Australia was established in 2009 under the previous Australian government. Located in a ‘social inclusion’ framework, it emphasizes the responsibility of institutions to contribute to social well-being, but also expresses a strong economic purpose for broadening participation – to ensure the nation has the high-level skills it needs to remain globally competitive. The framework sets a target of 40 per cent of 25- to 34-years-olds to have a bachelor’s degree by 2025, noting that it is not possible to achieve this without altering the social composition of the student body. This requires increased participation among those groups currently under-represented in the HE system, identified as people from regional and remote areas, Indigenous students and students from low socio-economic backgrounds (the bottom quartile of income-earning households).
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