Australian Journal of Education

Article Title

Increasing competition for university and the challenge of access for government school students--case study


There is a wide variety of universities, university campuses and university courses in Australia available to those interested in pursuing a higher education degree. This paper examines the impact of increasing competition for entrance to university on the educational outcomes for students from the government school sector. Using Melbourne as a case study, the research shows that, over a four-year period of increased competition, entry to some of the more academically accessible university campuses in the city became more difficult and this disproportionately affected the opportunities for university entrance among some groups. Despite the fact that there was no noticeable change in the academic standards achieved by government school completers, the rate at which government school students gained access to these universities declined noticeably during this time. These findings show how changes in supply of university places from year to year can have a profound effect on the opportunities of secondary-school completers--particularly those in more educationally disadvantaged settings.