Alternatives to Neo-liberal Dictates in Higher Education: The Fight against Student Poverty

By Anna King, Jane Doutre and Maria Macindoe.

Published by The Social Sciences Collection

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

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, Welfare

The International Journal of Interdisciplinary Social Sciences, Volume 2, Issue 2, pp.31-40. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 585.746KB).

Anna King

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

Anna coordinates systems relating to QUT's scholarships scheme for disadvantaged students. She also performs data analysis for equity target groups (both staff and students), writes reports for university and government bodies on QUT's equity related activities and is currently involved with a scholarship impact analysis project. Anna is undertaking a Master of Development Practice.

Jane Doutre

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

Jane is a Projects and Scholarships Officer for QUT's large scale scholarships program for students from low socioeconomic backgrounds. In addition to this work, Jane is involved in outreach activities for students from disadvantaged backgrounds. Jane has first hand knowledge and understanding of the impact of poverty on the daily life of university students. She is currently undertaking a Master of International and Community Development.

Maria Macindoe

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

Maria Macindoe (1961-2007) was instrumental in the establishment of the scholarship program for low-income students at QUT, and contributed significant work to this paper. During her career, Maria also lectured in education and worked with Indigenous students in regional and remote areas.

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