Alternatives to Neo-Liberal Dictates in Higher Education: The Fight Against Student Poverty

Anna King,
Jane Doutre,
Maria Macindoe
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University students from low socioeconomic backgrounds in Australia face increasing levels of poverty, escalating course fees and associated costs, and are required to meet a myriad of conditions in order to obtain financial support, all within the Australian Government rhetoric of rights and responsibilities. This is despite a new program of Government scholarships and the existence of widespread university-level support schemes aimed at reducing student poverty. The proportion of students from low socioeconomic backgrounds who are enrolled at university has decreased, which raises concerns about a growing socioeconomic polarisation of Australian society. Current research in this area neglects the local-global link; unless student poverty is contextualised within the broader paradigm of neo-liberal globalisation, any action taken to combat it will be limited. By situating the micro-level experiences of student poverty within the current macro-level global political context, counter-movements can be better understood and enhanced, and alternatives can be developed. Through the example of a large-scale scholarships program for low-income students at Queensland University of Technology in Brisbane, this paper will highlight the link between the current global political climate and the micro-level experiences of student poverty. Alternatives to the current paradigm will be explored and developed through a holistic lens which brings into view the experiential as well as the global.

Keywords: Higher Education, Student Poverty, Globalisation, Neo-Liberalism, Scholarships, Resistance, Social Welfare
Stream: Education and Social Welfare
Presentation Type: Paper Presentation in English
Paper: Alternatives to Neo-liberal Dictates in Higher Education

Anna King

Project Officer, Equity Section, Queensland University of Technology
Brisbane, Queensland, Australia

Queensland University of Technology (QUT) is a leader amongst Australian universities in addressing student poverty through a large scale scholarships program for students from low socioeconomic backgrounds. Anna, Jane and Maria work in various roles in the Equity Section at QUT and are committed to social justice. The range of activities they engage in includes policy development, strategic planning, development of poverty assessment parameters, scholarship application assessment, scholarship impact analysis and outreach activities. They have knowledge and understanding of the impact of poverty on the daily life of university students.

Jane Doutre

Project and Scholarships Officer, Equity Section, Queensland University of Technology
Brisbane, Queensland, Australia

Maria Macindoe

Senior Equity Officer, Equity Section, Queensland University of Technology
Brisbane, Queensland, Australia

Ref: I07P0147