Students with lower socioeconomic status go to university at a higher rate

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When Jessica Tabone entered her first media and marketing course at Macquarie University two weeks ago, she did so knowing that she had earned her place there by graduating from dux from Doonside Technology High School with an ATAR of 95.4.

But she didn’t always have that confidence. More than 60 percent of students at his school in West Sydney were in the bottom quartile of socio-educational advantage. She remembers talking to children from other areas on school trips and “feeling a change of presence when you mention where you are from”.

Jessica Tabone, a first year university student, dreams of going on an exchange to Amsterdam. Credit:Wolter peeters

“When that happens again, it becomes anchored in what you and your friends think about yourself and what you can accomplish: you think other people need to be smarter than us. Even though we may rank well in our school, we have no idea where we rank against people who can afford tutors and attend the best private schools.

“It was amazing to see that I didn’t just stand out in school, but against the state,” she said. “Some people in my class had to work in grade 12 to stay afloat, pay their Opal card and their phone bill. Children from different regions would not have this challenge.

Data released by the Universities Admission Center shows that the proportion of students completing HSC decreases with socioeconomic status (SSE). Only 1.3 percent of students in the lowest SSE quartile received an ATAR above 90, compared to 9.4 percent of students in the highest.

But the data tells a different story about how students enroll in college: While student enrollment rates decline with their ATAR, applicants with lower SSE enroll at a higher rate than students. candidates for higher SSE in all ATAR bands.

Lower SSE students with lower ATARs also apply at a higher rate, which UAC says may reflect its work to expand participation.

The discovery does not surprise Ms. Tabone. “We are very aware of the reality of not getting higher education,” she said. “Because we don’t have the flexibility to take a year off, or the extra funds to go on a trip and find ourselves, we are faced with a choice: to work for a year, or to enter a university education that can expand so many horizons.

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