No. 1 Equity and Diversity Studies in Higher Education Studies in Higher Education

Equity and diversity have been topics of enduring interest to scholars contributing to Studies in Higher Education over the past 50 years. In this Virtual Special Issue we have approached diversity in relation to different structures of inequality including socio-economic status, gender, ethnicity, disability, age and sexual orientation. We have attempted to provide some geographical diversity with papers from Australia, China, South Africa, Sweden, and the UK. We have included discussion of issues affecting undergraduate and postgraduate students, programmes and pedagogies, as well as employment regimes and identities for staff in higher education. The papers are from 2000-2015 as we believed that these are likely to be relevant to contemporary interests and policy debates and discourses.

Drawing on a range of research methodologies, the papers demonstrate that, despite equity legislation in many national locations, and international policy interventions to promote access to and equality in higher education, a range of exclusions and marginalisations continue. While changing quantitative representation of diverse social groups is important, this is not an end in itself, as the writers in this Virtual Special Issue highlight. Higher education systems and structures also need to change to reflect diverse constituencies. Writers have mapped a range of interventions, statistics and qualitative data sources to provide an overview of a multitude of challenges. Some of the key concepts discussed in these papers include organizational culture, social disadvantage, socio-cultural contexts, belonging, (under)-representation, micropolitics, identities, variations in academic attainment and decision-making for diverse social groups, the affective domain and embodiment. These concerns persist over time and diverse geo-political landscapes in the neo-liberal global academy suggesting that there is more work to be done empirically and theoretically to disrupt the symbolic and material maldistribution of opportunities for higher education.

Guest Editors: Louise Morley and Martin Hayden