22 SES 03 C, Student Diversity
Given the global importance of education to economic concerns, higher education has a critical role to play in prepraing young people for employment. However, it is widely argued that access to higher education oppotunities are not equal with student choice of higher education (HE) institution being identified as problematic, reflecting class based positions and re-enforcing perceptions of an HE hierarchy (Shattock 1996). Universities are increasingly involved in a ‘game’ in which their status in a wider educational field is frequently used by students as they consider where they will study. It is widely reported in existing literature that university choice is influenced by social background (Archer and Hutchings 2000) where students with increased levels of cultural capital know how to play the required games that secure places in elite institutions (Byrom, 2009). Such practice leads to institutions being framed and understood by the types of students they attract (Archer, 2003) and where the field of education increasingly operates as a pseudo-market. Despite the validity of such information being widely contested, published league tables and KIS data feature as tools through which students determine the quality of a potential HE institution. In this context, students with no family history of HE are presented with a myriad of different options within which they are expected to make decisions. Given that research identifies that some first generation students in particular, feel like a ‘fish out of water‘ in relation to HE (Reay, Crozier and Clayton, 2009: 1106) this study focuses on how and why first generation students tend to select post-1992 Universities and how they negotiate the complex process of higher education choice. Utilising a Bourdieuian lens, this research unpicks the complexities of university choice for non-traditional students with a focus on both individual and institutional habitus to explain how students negotiate their university choices within a complex field. With that in mind the main aims of the research were to:
- Further develop research in the area of first generation engagement and experience of higher education (see Rose 1989, Holloway 1997, Parr 1997, Reynolds 1997,Skeggs 1997, Reay 2001) through an understanding of students perceptions of 'choice' and 'fit'.
- Explore how first generation students choose institutions.
- Analyse the importance of social and academic fit to student choice.
Archer, L. (2003) Social Class and Higher Education. In, Archer, L., Hutchings, M. and Ross, A. (2003) Higher Education and Social Class: Issues of exclusion and inclusion. Abingdon, RoutledgeFalmer Archer, L. and Hutchings, M. (2000) ‘Bettering Yourself?’ Discourses of risk, cost and benefit in ethnically diverse, young working-class, non-participants’ constructions of higher education. British Journal of the Sociology of Education. Vol. 21 (4): 555 – 574. Ball, S.J. and Vincent, C. (1998) 'I heard it on the grapevine': 'hot' knowledge and school choice" British Journal of Sociology of Education, 19 (3) 377-400 BERA (2011) Ethical Guidelines for Educational Research 2011 Bourdieu, P. (1990) Practical Reason. Stanford, CA, Stanford University Press. Byrom, T. (2009) ‘I don’t want to go to a crummy little university’: social class, higher education choice and the paradox of widening participation. Improving Schools. Vol. 12 (3): 209 - 224 Cohen, L., Manion, L. and Morrison, K. (2011) Research Methods in Education London: Routledge Creswell, J. (1998) Qualitative Inquiry and Research Design: choosing among five traditions. Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Publications Inc Holloway, G. (1997). Finding a Voice: On Becoming a Working-Class Feminist Academic. In Class Matters: 'Working-Class' Women's Perspectives on Social Class. P. Mahony and C. Zmroczek (eds). London, Taylor and Francis Ltd. Parr, J. (1997). Women, Education and Class: The Relationship between Class Background and Research. In Class Matters: 'Working-Class' Women's Perspectives on Social Class. P. Mahony and C. Zmroczek (eds). London, Taylor and Francis Ltd. Reay, D. (2001). "Finding or losing yourself?: working-class relationships to education." Journal of Education Policy 16(4): 333 - 346. Reay, D., S.J. Ball, M. David and J. Davies (2001) ‘Choices of Degree or Degrees of Choice? Social Class, Race and the Higher Education Choice Process’, Sociology 35(4): 855–74. Reay, D., Crozier, G. and Clayton, J. (2010) ‘Fitting in’ or ‘standing out’: working‐class students in UK higher education. British Educational Research Journal, Vol. (1): 107-124. Reed-Danahay, D. (2005). Locating Bourdieu. Bloomington, IN., Indiana University Press. Skeggs, B. (1997). Formations of Class and Gender. London, SAGE Publications Ltd. Wilcox, P., Winn, S., et al. (2005). "'It was nothing to do with the university, it was just the people': the role of social support in the first-year experience of higher education." Studies in Higher Education 30(6): 707 - 722.
Search the ECER Programme
- Search for keywords and phrases in "Text Search"
- Restrict in which part of the abstracts to search in "Where to search"
- Search for authors and in the respective field.
- For planning your conference attendance you may want to use the conference app, which will be issued some weeks before the conference
- If you are a session chair, best look up your chairing duties in the conference system (Conftool) or the app.