In this chapter we provide a brief history of student fees in Australian higher education (HE), particularly from 1974 when fees were abolished but more substantially from 1989 when they were re-introduced. Of particular interest is the impact of student fees on the equity of access in HE: what has become known in Australia as the proportional representation of ‘equity’ groups (i.e. groups defined by gender, socioeconomic status, disability, indigeneity, rurality or language background; see Martin, L. (1994). Equity and general performance indicators in higher education. Canberra: Australian Government Publishing Service.), although latterly the focus has been on socioeconomic status (SES). Our analysis is of Australian Government policy, framed by a ‘quality of mind’ that C. W. Mills (1959, p. 14) refers to as the ‘sociological imagination’. That is, we draw attention to the absence of this imagination in much government policy, which falsely separates the personal troubles of individuals (e.g. in financing access to HE) from the public issues of societies (e.g. in universalising HE), with a tendency to ascribe responsibility for student fees to the former over the latter. In these terms, we characterise the history of access to Australian HE — specifically the role that student fees have played in this — as fluctuating from personal trouble to public issue and back again.
Gale, T. and Parker, S. (2018), "Student Tuition Fees in Australian Higher Education: A Litany of Public Issues and Personal Troubles", Riddell, S., Minty, S., Weedon, E. and Whittaker, S. (Ed.) Higher Education Funding and Access in International Perspective (Great Debates in Higher Education), Emerald Publishing Limited, pp. 223-240. https://doi.org/10.1108/978-1-78754-651-620181012Download as .RIS
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