Localised learning: Mobilising belonging among mature-aged students in low socio-economic status regional and remote areas

Nicole Crawford, Lara McKenzie

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    5 Citations (Scopus)
    10 Downloads (Pure)

    Abstract

    The higher education participation and success rates of students in low socio-economic status (SES), regional, rural, remote, and isolated areas – who often attend university later in life – is a persistent concern in Australia and beyond. This article focuses on mature-aged students in low SES, regional and remote areas in Tasmania, Australia, proposing that universities harness local belonging when providing learning opportunities. It draws on a thematic analysis of 19 semi-structured interviews with current and prospective university students, and community stakeholders. The study identifies time and place-based barriers to studying on campus: students’ commitments outside of university; and geographical, cultural, and financial challenges. However, existing local infrastructure, such as libraries, create opportunities for face-to-face interactions and learning support for students who study online in their regional or remote communities, provided by staff and local volunteers. These barriers and solutions are discussed using the concept of ‘belonging’, framed spatially and culturally. Current literature on regional and remote higher education students tends to emphasise ‘not belonging’ in relation to distant urban or metropolitan spaces. We argue that ‘belonging’ can be fostered in local spaces with local people. Utilising ‘untapped’ local learning support and existing physical spaces mitigates geographical, cultural, and financial challenges, and provides academic and emotional support. We propose a coordinated network of physical study places and local people, including: regional ‘satellite’ campuses; regional study hubs; local public libraries; and schools, where online students can be supported, connected, and engaged in their studies whilst located in regional and remote communities.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)1021-1040
    Number of pages20
    JournalHigher Education
    Volume85
    Issue number5
    Early online date31 May 2022
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - May 2023

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