Wednesday, 13 August 2014

The Concept of Rurality

I have just read a chapter on 'rurality' and students and higher education in the United Kingdom. Obviously the context in the UK and South Africa, with regard to rurality is different, but this is still a useful resource for our project, with regard to context. The focus is more on students than on academics. We have three universities in rural areas, albeit with different levels of resourcing, different histories and so on. We plan to talk about 'rurality' as one of the inputs at a panel we have planned for the annual Heltasa conference in November later this year.

The chapter, entitled Rurality and Higher Education: A conceptual analysis is by Neil Moreland, Joyce Chamberlain and Kepa Artarez. It is in Maria Slowey and David Watson (Eds) Higher Education and the Lifecourse. Maidenhead: SRHE/OUP.

The writers do not define rurality, but they do describe it as follows:

There is a diversity in rural areas; the dispersal of rural exclusion and poverty is often found amidst affluence (Rowntree Foundation 2000). As the Rowntree Foundation Report says: The main axes of inequality in rural Britain are social class, gender and age. The principal groups affected by exclusion are older people, young people, low-paid people in work, self-employed people, people detached from labour markets, and women . . . Other factors which are more important in rural than urban areas include low pay, inadequate pensions, poverty in self-employment, lower levels of benefit uptake, and fear of stigma in small communities. (Rowntree Foundation 2000: 4) Such factors are not likely to be addressed by free markets in educational provision at higher education.

I wonder if there are more recent writings on this issue, and whether there are some pertaining more specifically to South Africa or similar resource constrained contexts?

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