From 'chopping up chicken' to 'cap and gown': A university initiative to increase pathways to employment for skilled migrants and refugees
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Equity policies enable individuals from low SES backgrounds to enter University, yet do not facilitate their engagement as members of groups. These selected individuals enter a broader cohort, where they are expected (with support) to meet the same graduate attributes as everyone else. Rather than the diverse experiences of such students being seen as strengths to be built on, the focus tends to be placed on remedying their learning disadvantage. Thus, university poses as a neutral pathway to jobs and status, and effectively, a pathway out of low SES communities, rather than a gateway into greater community involvement. This paper presents a case study of a graduate certificate which offered fee scholarships to a group of overseas skilled refugees and migrants. In contrast to usual equity experiences, these students progressed as a cohort, were often the majority group in class, bent the curriculum to their own needs and applied the learning to their community involvements. Such engagement constituted a rich adult learning experience, which challenged conventional teaching-learning processes and curriculum, and raised questions about academic standards. Examining learnings from this project, the paper asks how Schools of Social Work can draw on their professional values to enhance equity processes within the academy.
Advances in Social Work and Welfare Education
Copyright 2013 Advances in Social Work and Welfare Education. The attached file is reproduced here in accordance with the copyright policy of the publisher. Please refer to the journal's website for access to the definitive, published version.
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