Smyth, John and Harrison, Tim (2015) What it means to be studyingagainst the grainof neoliberalism in a community-based university programme in a ‘disadvantaged area’. Journal of Educational Administration and History, 47 (2). pp. 155-173. ISSN 0022-0620

Australia is indicative of a country that is deeply confused and conflicted around a policy discourse of inclusion that is sutured within an existential context heavily committed to the tenets of neoliberalism. Nowhere is this more evident than in the case of higher education, in which the proportion of young people from backgrounds of ‘disadvantage’ has remained implacably stuck at around 15% for several decades. The research from which this paper comes is an innovative community-based university-provided programme for young people for whom university education was never a realistic possibility – because of family histories, interruption to their lives, of having undertaken forms of secondary education that prevented them from gaining university entrance qualification, or who had terminated their education before completing the secondary years of schooling. This paper explores the story of one young person in his first year in a university programme, as he struggled with obstacles and impediments of a higher education system and set of neoliberal policy discourses that remain deeply sceptical and antagonistic to his trajectory.

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