Participation in Higher Education: Equity and Access?*


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    The authors acknowledge financial assistance from the Australian Research Council and the Department of Education, Science and Training, and thank Derby Voon for research assistance and two anonymous referees for comments. Opinions expressed are those of the authors, and should not be attributed to either the sponsoring agencies or the University of Western Australia.

Correspondence: Paul W. Miller, Economics M251, Business School, The University of Western Australia, 35 Stirling Highway, Crawley, WA 6009, Australia. Email:


The conventional wisdom in Australia is that policy aimed at reducing imbalances in the representation of different socioeconomic classes in the tertiary sector should be aimed at encouraging completion of high school. The analyses in this paper suggest, however, that most of the differences in the socioeconomic mix of tertiary students are due to different propensities of high school graduates to pursue tertiary studies. The relatively low rate of university participation among rural students, however, needs to be addressed by encouraging the completion of high school.