Equity Indicators: Measures of Socio-Economic Status in an Australian University

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Sinclair, Genevieve, Doughney, James and Palermo, Josephine (2003) Equity Indicators: Measures of Socio-Economic Status in an Australian University. Journal of Institutional Research, 12 (1). pp. 74-93. ISSN 1443-2110


After reviewing relevant literature on socio-economic status (SES) and the ways in which it is used for higher education institutional research and policy, a detailed data analysis of Victoria University (Australia) student data was undertaken. Between 10,000 and 15,000 domestic student addresses were ‘geocoded’ to Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) collection district level. A survey of individual reenrolling 2001 students that included parental occupation and education data was also analysed. The most important findings were: The debate for practical reasons tends to focus on area versus individual measures, but SES is a richer and more complex subject and must be acknowledged as such. It is apparent that VU’s student catchment is on average of lower SES than the Melbourne average, using various area measures of SES, including the DEST-Martin indicators. There is only a very small difference between average area SES measures at the collection district and the postcode level. In practical terms this means that the postcode method is adequate, as well as being cheaper and more efficiently obtained, for analyses at an aggregated (or average) level. Individual surveys of students do not prima facie add to the quality of aggregated institution level SES results delivered by area analyses. This again suggests that the postcode method is best for practical reasons.

Item type Article
URI https://vuir.vu.edu.au/id/eprint/2496
Official URL http://www.aair.org.au/articles/volume-12-no-1/12-...
Subjects Current > Division/Research > Other
Historical > FOR Classification > 2299 Other Philosophy and Religious Studies
Keywords ResPubID5475, equity, Australian University, socio-economic status
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