Since the introduction of the Commonwealth Higher Education Equity Program in 1985, there has been a proliferation of higher education access and equity bridging courses. Nearly every institution of higher education in Australia offers at least one such course. Access and equity bridging courses are often portrayed by policy makers and practitioners as having an important social justice role in contemporary Australia. Generally, these courses aim to improve the lot of disadvantaged persons by equalizing access to higher education and by equalizing the benefits and outcomes associated with participation in higher education. This paper explores the two expressions of equality - equality of opportunity and equality of outcomes - that underwrite the Higher Education Equity Program and the policies and practices of higher education access and equity bridging courses. This paper argues that these expressions are disparate and competitive. Further, it is demonstrated that access and equity bridging courses are designed to play a role that seeks mediation between these two discourses. Finally, this paper investigates the tensions in the policies and practices of these courses, that subsequently emanate from their mediatory role.