Equitable access, success and quality in higher education are examined from a variety of ideological perspectives. Quality is positioned as a complex generic concept while access and success are identified as key concepts in the social inclusion domain, supplemented by the concept of participation. The topic is approached through an integrative analysis of the theory and practice literature on social inclusion in higher education. After contextualising current higher education within economic globalisation, the notion of quality is uncoupled from the necessity of a neoliberal framing allowing broader interpretations arising from more inclusive ideologies. Access, participation and success are shown to represent degrees of social inclusion underpinned by a nested spectrum of ideologies — neoliberalism, social justice and human potential, respectively — with human potential ideology offering the most embracing perspective. Australian higher education is foregrounded, yet contextualised within European historical precedents and contemporary global issues.

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