Low socioeconomic status students transitioning from Vocational Education and Training (VET) to university : Examining definitions of success

Journal article


Vanderburg, Robert, Harris, Lois, Dargusch, Joanne and Richardson, Susan. (2023). Low socioeconomic status students transitioning from Vocational Education and Training (VET) to university : Examining definitions of success. Higher Education Research and Development. 42(3), pp. 742-756. https://doi.org/10.1080/07294360.2022.2089098
AuthorsVanderburg, Robert, Harris, Lois, Dargusch, Joanne and Richardson, Susan
Abstract

Within Australia, Vocational Education and Training (VET) is promoted as a pathway for low socioeconomic status (LSES) students to enter Higher Education (HE). However, greater equity will only occur if these students achieve successful university outcomes. But how should such success be defined? This paper examined two data sources (i.e., nine years of archival achievement data from one multi-campus Australian university, 18 qualitative interviews with LSES VET students who had transitioned to HE) to consider varying measures of this group’s success. Quantitative achievement measures indicated that although VET-entry students performed as well as or better than those entering based on secondary school results, LSES students had systematically lower academic achievement across both groups, suggesting equity goals are yet to be realised. While interviewed students frequently mentioned grades, they also described seeing improvement, making connections, experiencing satisfaction and growing confidence as markers of success. Data highlighted the negative consequences some LSES VET students experienced when grades were viewed as the sole metric of success. Findings suggest it is important for universities to continue to promote VET pathways and normalise diverse conceptions of success to encourage persistence when academic achievement goals are not immediately reached.

Keywordsfirst year experience; student diversity; socioeconomic status; vocational education; pathways to university
Year2023
JournalHigher Education Research and Development
Journal citation42 (3), pp. 742-756
PublisherRoutledge
ISSN0729-4360
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)https://doi.org/10.1080/07294360.2022.2089098
Scopus EID2-s2.0-85135507641
Page range742-756
FunderDepartment of Education, Skills and Employment, Australian Government
Publisher's version
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All rights reserved
File Access Level
Controlled
Output statusPublished
Publication dates
Online03 Aug 2022
Publication process dates
Accepted22 May 2022
Deposited29 Jun 2023
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