Equity In Higher Education: A Comparative Study Of Australia And Bhutan

Equity in Australian Higher Education and Its Success Stories

Education is a born right of every Australian citizen, when we check the worth of this statement from the point of view of the Australian higher education policies then we find that since the last 25 years most of these policies are ensuring a high equity in the higher education for the Low strata Socioeconomic societies ( SES).  In spite of the fact that these communities were having a low presence in the field of the higher education, the efforts of the Australian universities cannot be undermined, especially in the terms of the policy making. They created a great example and certain developing world countries like Bhutan can certainly take a leaf from this book created by the authorities concerned with the higher education equity of Australia (Andrew Harvey 2016).  The outcome of many policies have created some outstanding examples and contributed big time in the success of short-term goals and long-term goals connected to the equity in higher education.  

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In the current assignment, we will understand the commitment of equity as it is being drawn by the Australian universities and compare it with a developing nation like Bhutan. In Bhutan they invested a lot of effort in the same department; however, their efforts in the field of the equity did not meet with the desired results because their policy drafts were having certain shortcomings.  In this study, we will compare some of the policies of Australia with India and try to fill the gap where Bhutan was lacking.  

In terms of economic equity is connected with the results, the areas with better productivity should enjoy more equity. However, in the case of the education, we have a different set of the rules. Here an equation related to the equity based on the profit has all the good reasons to create an imbalance in the system and this imbalance can appear in the social structures and finally beat the spirit of the equality in the society. Designing a policy for the fair chance is always a tricky job. There are many reasons behind it. The principle of the fair chance says that “each according to the capacity and each according to the necessity.” Sometimes when we facilitate the people with the necessity then it brings in a sense of resentment among the lower layers of the people that have capacities.  Still, the socio-economic perspective gives us a clear-cut verdict that as a policymaker any authority is responsible for the betterment of each and every class of the society (A. B. Mahsood Shah 2015 ).

The Challenges of Equity in Bhutan and the Way Forward

When we talk about the equity involved in higher education then we find that per capita investment on every student plays a crucial role. Many developing countries hesitate in investing equity in higher education because they think that spending in the field of higher education may restrict the chances of the masses.  In the current study, we are trying to demystify this statement or the myth by comparing two different countries where they are doing equal efforts but Australia is in the position of the gain because of a sensible percentage of the equity in the higher education (Sheila Riddell 2018).

In the case of Bhutan, this practice of providing a fair chance to an underprivileged person is dependent on the economic status of the person. They are promoting higher education amidst some great problems because at the lower level the literacy rates were not satisfactory in the past (Ward 2016).

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In the name of the fair chance, the government of Bhutan is awarding a financial support to the aspirants. It is true that they are short of the budgets even when they are promoting higher education and sending the creamy layer students to other countries like India for higher education.

 The Australian model of the same is working well because they are a resourceful country by all the possible standards. As a country, Australia respects its intellectual capital, in the case of Bhutan they are searching for intellectual capital to move into the country and work for its betterment. Their consistent efforts are paying now and this is why they are changing their policies towards bringing in an equity in the segment of the higher education in Bhutan. A good policy should have provisions to keep an eye on the changing definitions.  If it fails in this regard then it fails in keeping all the stakeholders happy. In a small country like Bhutan, even the government of the country becomes a natural stakeholder in the process of promoting high equity in the sector of higher education. Equity refers to an equal opportunity. The government of Bhutan is treating it as an investment for the future generations (Undergraduate Scholarship Program unveiled 2018). An investment at the lower level can act as a push for the higher level of education and increase its performance in the case of Bhutan.

Any policy deciding the flow of the equity in the higher education sector should also have some provisions to support the operations during the course of the higher education. It is an important exercise. We should never undermine the fact that we are dealing with a different socio-economic profile. Many developing countries like Bhutan has great provisions to provide a fair chance to certain individuals at an entry level however, they fail to sustain the spirit of this fair chance in the next level when the subject promoted by them loses an interest in the education. In the practical terms, it is impossible to attain a hundred percent successes in this department. Australia has a better track record of success at this stage of the equity performance.  Most of the Australian policies in this regard are very effective. The equity related policies of Australia promotes consistent yardsticks to define the equity groups in accordance with their performances. In some cases, they provide financial assistance to the students and other benefits’ just to maintain the gaps that might create a hindrance in the process of higher education for them (Atherton 2018).

The Connection between Equity in Higher Education and Economic Development through the Neo-liberal Political Economy

There are two ways to look at this exercise. As a policy formulator, we can give two types of supports to an individual at this level. We can help them externally by giving means to sustain their life and make it a bit easy. We can also give them an internal support by coming up with some provisions for lenient marking regimes and other methods to push them to the next levels of the education (David M. Hardy 2018).

In Bhutan they follow the direct methods, under these direct methods they promote such students with the help of a relaxation in the marking, and however, Australia has a clear policy of external support only. Here they try to support the individual by improving the economic status of the person. For instance, they come up with scholarships to promote such students. Bhutan also follows the same thing, however, the competition is not very stiff in Bhutan, whereas it is a cutthroat scenario in Australia.

The Australian example clearly tells us that the focus of any policy should cover all the crunch areas quite effectively.  Countries like Bhutan often focus more entry and exit points of the educational journeys of the individuals in the corridors of higher education (Enrolment in higher education goes up; Karnataka, AP record best pupil-teacher ratio 2018). The removal of financial barriers during the course of the study is an important aspect. Most of the governments are doing well in this regards. Australian system has done a remarkable job in this direction as well. They have a policy of introducing industrial training programs during the course of the study itself (Vishnoi 2018).  This paid training helps the aspirants big time and allows them to earn a livelihood while they are learning.

Any equity in the higher education system becomes less effective if the policymakers are ignoring the presence of universal higher education system. The universal higher education system promotes a global workforce that has the power to represent a country on global platforms while handling certain international operations. Many experts believe that equity in the sector of higher education should come up with some direct fruits. Most of the policies should have a provision to accommodate neo-models that are emerging with the fast-changing global world. These neo-models are an outcome of the neoliberal political economies (Burquel 2018).  When we compare Bhutan and Australia on the levels of the neo-liberal political economies then we find that 1990 was the key year. It was the year when Australia was coming up with some policies to generate a workforce that can work in a neo-liberal political economy (Jack Frawley 2018). Whereas Bhutan was planning to send their students to India so that they can understand a neo-liberal political economy. The Bhutanian education sector is the key area where they are trying to develop a global workforce enabled with higher education with an intention to earn some fruits for their native country (Nanda 2018).


The equity in higher education becomes a part of the economic development when we do it with a purview to create an international workforce to represent a country. In a condition like this, the neo-models become the point of the convergence for the old policies and the new policies.  Australian policymakers handled this convergence point quite effectively and this is why most of their policies have become role models for the developing world (Mallaya 2018).  For instance, at the turn of the century, most of the economists were clear that now the shift is changing from industrial operations to the information based operations. Australian policymakers came up with some plans to increase the student equity in the process, the student equity served as a great way to boost the policy decisions (Gohan 2018).

The concept of student equity was jointly developed by British universities and Australian universities. The introduction of the student equity also introduces us to another concept of the policymaking. This aspect is connected with the roles that the stakeholders are playing the main process. A policy has the power to decide the role of each and every stakeholder in the process.  A good policy should also have the potential to fulfill its core aims at the same time. In the case of the introduction of the student equity, we can understand this example where the introduction of the student equity served the basic purpose of the policy (Paranjpe 2018). The purpose of the policy was to enable the students that were belonging to the SES class of the society. The concept of the student equity added a new dimension in the exercise. The student equity became a metric for the success of the main program (Waxler 2018).

This example teaches us about the enablement of some active performance indicators during the phase of the policymaking. A policy document is a guide map of the operations, how they should be executed and what results they should fetch in at various steps of the implementations. In the present case, the student equity played the role of the performance indicator. Australia set an example for it which was missing in the case of the developing world (Leigh 2018).  An understanding of the geographical index of the area can also change a few things in the implementation of a policy. We can set new and fresh norms and localize the efforts. For instance think about a coffee plantation, an agriculture college catering to the coffee plantation alongside management a management college can change the complexion of the area completely (Tiffany Jones 2018). For a relatively smaller country like Bhutan, the things are always on the easier side because they don’t need a geographical index to understand the higher education based potential of their meritorious student. All they need is the promote them and support them in the field of higher education.

In the case of Australia, aboriginal people are the focused area of any SES policy. When we check the performance of an aboriginal person participating in the framework of higher education equity them a very important term strikes our mind. This term is a cultural barrier. The ground facts give us an idea that it is easier for an individual belonging to a general category when it comes to performing at the higher levels of the education. Although it becomes a herculean task for an aboriginal person to perform at that level, language is the first barrier; most of the countries think that the story of the cultural barriers ends after overcoming the barriers of the language (Malley 2018). However, in the practical terms, the story starts here. This story starts after the removal of the language barrier.  The language is only a reflection of the worldview of an individual.  Most of the aboriginal people struggle with the Standard English language. The English language is not a language alone; it is a culture in itself (Loshini Naidoo 2018).

Australian government integrated the efforts of higher education with certain areas of the industry where this shortcoming became a strength for the aboriginal people. It was the area of tourism. Tourism is a kind of cultural exchange where people want to know about an alien culture. The policies connected to higher education equity find an effective resort in the tourism policies of Australia. In the tourism industry, they consumed the shortcomings of aboriginal people and converted a cultural barrier into a cultural capital (Hongzhi Zhang 2014).

A purview of the Australian higher education equity also gives us an idea that policymakers are aware that efforts in the field of the higher education have a better multiplier in the terms of the sustainability of any given sector of the industry. For instance, we can take the example of the tourism industry. One aboriginal person equipped with the understanding of the world given by the higher education has this power to create a system beneath him and enable more people in the same area (J. M. Mahsood Shah 2018).

Let’s now compare the same case from the perspective of Bhutan, Just like Australia, they can also offer their bit in the field of tourism. However, most of their policies failed in garnering the desired impact because the equity of the higher education in the travel sector was relatively low. The domestic travelers in Bhutan still move in an unorganized fashion, this unorganized fashion creates a chaos (Lorri Santamaría 2015). The efforts of the education policies of Bhutan were more on the soft skills rather than the analytical skills. Learning soft skills is an easy way it is an instant source of the earning for the local people if we check the case of the tourism industry. In terms of numbers, it can give us a feel good that we are implementing policies with great success. However, things become different when we see the same thing from the perspective of sustainability. Analytical skills associated with higher education enables a better platform for a sustainable development (Baker 2018).

The education system of Bhutan and their equity in the higher education failed in the case of the tourism industry because of the lack of well-trained professionals at the higher ranks. The aim of the policies implemented by Australia and Bhutan were different in the terms of the implementation, Australians were making policies to expand their higher education base. However, Bhutan, on the other hand, was fighting to bring its entire country people under the umbrella of education. One thing is common in the approach of both the countries. They were planning to remove a cultural barrier and convert it into a cultural capital. Australia took resort in higher education with equal energy, whereas Bhutan focused more on the numbers behind their efforts. In the same assignment, we also discussed the emergence of the neo-models.  In the case of Australia and Bhutan, the Australian workforce handled the neo-models well and came up with a sustainable tourism industry. However, in the case of Bhutan they failed miserably in investing in the higher education equity, this is why they are still dealing with a fragmented tourism industry which is volatile in nature (Masters 2018).


A comparative study of Australian commitment towards equity in higher education gives us this clear idea that an investment in the equity of higher education always fetches long-term gains. These long-term gains can be quantified further in the terms of the sustainability of some specific industry sectors. The example of the Bhutan, on the other hand, was more mass specific, they were chasing the numbers and this is where the things went wrong for them.

Equity in higher education gives objectivity to the efforts of the government quite considerably. It enables various systems to convert neo-models into sustainable models of the future. In the same fashion, it also helps the country in collecting the intellectual capital that can be later on converted into successful business endeavors and support masses and big scale operations in the country.

The industries of the future are also recommending analytical skills over the technical and soft skills. Streams like STEM and Medicine has already reached to their pinnacles where the machines are all set to take on the world. Australia, Bhutan or any other place in the world, we cannot undermine the fact that in the future it is the analytical skills that will become a guarantee of a job for an individual.

We can also say that higher education will ensure more employability skills in an individual. The stakes in higher education equity thus become more important for any society in terms of the creation of a balance in society. This is why it is also important for an any given economy and education system to pay enough attention towards the needs of the more higher education equity.  On the lines of the conclusion, we can always say that higher education equity is a seed, it should be treated as something that can give rise to a system and later on a generation and the products of the lower education streams can pluck the fruits out of it.

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