Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


School of Education


Partnerships have been positioned as a critical vehicle to delivering Widening Participation (WP) and subsequently increasing access to higher education in the Australian and United Kingdom (UK) national policy contexts. Collaboration between schools, universities, vocational education providers, community organisations and industry is needed to broaden exposure to diverse pathways and professions beyond post-secondary schooling and reduce barriers to enable individuals to seamlessly transition between education and employment. Despite this, there has been an absence of guidelines and clear processes in the creation, implementation, and evaluation of WP partnerships in Australia, resulting in partnerships being implemented in disparate and underdeveloped ways. Drawing on the expertise of practitioners in schools and universities, this study explores how school and university staff located in Australia and the UK qualitatively experience WP partnerships. These partnerships will be understood through Bourdieu’s lens of social reproduction, enabling geographical, organisational, and personal influences on partnership development to be understood. Combining these understandings with extant literature and key learnings from the Australian and UK contexts, a preliminary model for effective school-university WP partnerships will be presented. The insights reported in this thesis contribute to a broader understanding about partnership and WP, as well as providing much needed guidance to the sector on characteristics of effective partnerships between schools and universities.

FoR codes (2008)

130103 Higher Education, 139999 Education not elsewhere classified, 160506 Education Policy



Unless otherwise indicated, the views expressed in this thesis are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of the University of Wollongong.