Small steps in the widening access agenda: mentoring, young parents and partnerships in the tertiary sector

Year: 2013

Author: Charlton, Emma, Walker-Gibbs, Bernie, Lynch, Julie

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

Within the agenda to widen access to tertiary education across Australia and internationally attention is often drawn to the quantifiable in terms of impact and progress. In 2012 a mentoring program was initiated in a regional city in Victoria that saw university students working with a group of young parents completing their high school education in a technical and further education institution (TAFE). This process drew attention to the tiny steps that constitute progress and pathways in terms of accessing tertiary education. This paper focuses on the obstacles and achievements of this program, and what this might mean for widening access for underrepresented groups within higher and further education, particularly for students where dimensions of rurality and regionality, school completion and parenting intersect with educational participation; and where partnerships between tertiary education institutions are being built amidst economic climates of austerity. The data collected includes interviews with staff and students, field observations and artefacts created during the program. This paper draws on de Certeau's understanding of everyday practice to explore the diverse ways in which stakeholders within this field of practice represent their work.