|Associate Professor Maria Raciti,|
University of the Sunshine Coast)
The risks from attending university for low SES students are very real, and not going to university straight out of school is a rational choice. Rather than try to convince students to make the risky choice of university first, I suggest we need to change the educational system to support students, regardless of SES status, to all consider vocational education before university. This is a much safer option for low SES students. Students who choose VET first are making a smaller investment in education, in terms of time and money, with more secure employment prospects. These students can attend university later, for further qualifications. This approach benefits not just low SES students, as older more mature people, with work experience, make better university students.
At present, VET is considered a poor second choice: what those who can't get into university do. That could be changed by promoting integrated VET studies in schools, and by fixing the current broken VET funding model. Government funding can also be changed to encourage universities to better integrate with VET.
The ten risks for students identified in Professor Raciti's study were:
- Functional and future work risk
- Financial and resource risk
- Psychological risk
- Social risk
- Time-loss risk
- Physical and wellbeing risk
- Social class identity risk
- Opportunity cost
- Competency risk
- Overall risk
Raciti M. M. (2019). Career Construction, Future Work and the Perceived Risks of Going to University for Young People from low SES Backgrounds: Research Fellowship Final Report, Perth: National Centre for Student Equity in Higher Education.