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The Learning Conference 2003

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Presentation Details


Demystifying the 'Secret Business' of Universities: Misconceptions, Assumptions and Constructions of Adult Learners at University

Moore Liz.

As an alternative entry student many of the problems that I have experienced throughout my undergraduate and postgraduate careers have been associated with the clashing of two cultures – the university/institutional culture and my socially constructed, educationally disadvantaged, seemingly deficient, working class culture. The language of ‘disadvantage’ may have been necessary some ten years ago when people such as myself were identified as being under represented in tertiary institutions by the Australian Government, however, my research suggests that this type of language is no longer necessary nor appropriate.

Findings suggest that it is the nature and culture of university that creates barriers to participation for people for low socio economic areas. These barriers are created by equating problems with learning to deficiencies in cultural backgrounds. The language of ‘disadvantage’ seems to have become synonymous with educational deficiencies and the findings of my research suggest that it is time to move away from this type of discourse.


Moore Liz  (Australia)
Murdoch University

Elizabeth has just completed her Masters Of Education and is currently awaiting PHd candidature. She is a Foundation Unit tutor at Murdoch University. She was instrumental in the design and delivery of a university bridging program and has her own Consultancy Firm. Her area of interest is first year university students particularly those students who gain entry via alternative pathways.

  • Deficit theory
  • Language of 'disadvantage'
  • Alternative entry and non traditional entry

(30 min Conference Paper, English)