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The rhetoric and reality of equitable access to higher education in the Anglophone Caribbean: Transforming vision into action

Blancaneaux, Minerva Patricia (2022) The rhetoric and reality of equitable access to higher education in the Anglophone Caribbean: Transforming vision into action. PhD thesis, Murdoch University.

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Abstract

This study is about access to higher education (HE) in the Anglophone Caribbean. It seeks to answer two questions: what rhetoric is evident in current policies that guide access to higher education in the Anglophone Caribbean? And what is the reality of how policies and practices impact access to higher education opportunities for students? These questions are answered through an equity-focused lens. The study used a sequential mixed-method design and the research was conducted in three phases. Phase one was an analysis of extant documentation on existing policies and practices for twelve Anglophone Caribbean countries. Phase two comprised a series of interviews with government officials and higher education officers about their conceptualizations and perceptions of equitable access to HE. In phase three, an online student survey was organized to compare the experiences of students across the region in accessing HE and to examine their perceptions about the policies and practices guiding access. The findings of this research reveal a region-wide deficit in data management, program and policy implementation, and monitoring and evaluation. Additionally, the existing policy documents include mostly implicit references to equity of access to HE. Further findings reveal that while there is ample provision for HE across the region, fair access to those opportunities is still a challenge. The major barriers to access perceived by students and education officials are HE funding, HE cost and related expenses, access for persons with disabilities, and rural/remote access. Equity groups most affected are those with low socio-economic status (SES) and first generation in higher education students (FGHEs). Variables NOT perceived as barriers to HE access in the region were gender, race/ethnicity, religion, age, sexual orientation and cultural/linguistic background. These findings are discussed in the context of the Caribbean’s ongoing development.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Murdoch Affiliation(s): Education
United Nations SDGs: Goal 4: Quality Education
Supervisor(s): Perry, Laura
URI: http://researchrepository.murdoch.edu.au/id/eprint/66019
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