Higher vocational education and social mobility: educational participation in Australia and England

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


  • Sue Webb
  • Trevor Gale
  • Stephen Parker
  • Stephen Hodge
  • Shaun Rawolle


This article explores the issue of social mobility in relation to the recent expansion of higher vocational education (HIVE) by non-university providers. The post-school vocational education sector has become the object of policies to widen access to higher education to ensure greater social mobility and provide second chance education to those who do not complete initial education in Anglophone countries. Drawing on typologies of vocational education and training systems, the article generates understanding of the expansion of HIVE within two Anglophone countries (Australia and England). The article considers the implications for widening opportunities to higher education for non-traditional students from disadvantaged socio-economic backgrounds in these two contexts. Descriptive analysis of current national data on participation reveals surprising differences between countries. The article concludes by discussing the extent to which the higher education offerings in vocational institutions can contribute to social mobility within these two countries.


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)147-167
JournalJournal of Vocational Education and Training
Issue number1
Early online date23 Mar 2017
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 23 Mar 2017