Decreasing attrition while increasing diversity : connections and contradictions in transforming marginalisation in an Australian contemporary University
chapterposted on 06.12.2017, 00:00 by Donald BowserDonald Bowser, Jeyaseelan SomasundaramJeyaseelan Somasundaram, Patrick DanaherPatrick Danaher
This chapter uses the current focus on universities decreasing student attrition as a lens to explore the connections and contradictions faced by those same universities as they increase diversity and aspire to transform m arginalisation. The chapter draws on statistical data relating to Australian university students generally and to Central Queensland University (CQU) students specifically to illustrate some of the challenges and opportunities as universities seek to bring their own institutional strategies into alignment at the macro level with government socioeconomic policy and at the micro level with the individual goals and aspirations of students and other stakeholders.Findings presented in the chapter support the argument that CQU specifically and the Australian higher education sector more broadly have contributed to maximising the educational outcomes, and hence to transforming the marginalisation, of some minority groups, such as students from non-English speaking backgrounds and some residents of regional communities. On the other hand, relatively high attrition rates remain the norm for other groups, such as Indigenous students, those from isolated areas and those from lower socioeconomic backgrounds, and for some groups not generally associated with minorities. For these groups, and for universities striving to increase their diversity by including such groups in their student cohorts, the groups’ marginalisation remains untransformed.