22 SES 02 C, Strategic Practices of Inclusion & Exclusion
A growing political interest in access and the study success of diverse student populations in higher education has been witnessed in many countries in Western Europe lately. Higher education has also been reformulated as a main vehicle for sustainable growth in society, which has led to new political priorities which connect educational policy and the notion of workforce competitiveness and employability in an increasingly globalized world (Europe 2020). Member states in the European Commission have been encouraged to invest in their higher education systems ensuring increased access to higher education and student success guided by buzzwords like widening or broadening participation, student retention and employability.
At the same time, students are expected to be mobile, at least in neoliberal and modernist discourses, which transcend national educational policies. Nonetheless, being mobile can mean different things, for example, in terms of using higher education for climbing upwards socially or geographically within the Bologna framework. But it could also include moving in and out of financial systems (labour market, student finance) as well as managing time, deadlines, keeping up, and the timing of important events during one’s educational career.
In relation to the ideal visions of successful student trajectories which can be derived from educational policy and debates, it can be questioned whether the opportunities to access higher education, to be mobile, efficient and successful are the same for all students. This connects to research problems that have been attended to in many countries, i.e. in the Nordic region such as in Finland, in Denmark, in Norway and in several other European countries such as i.e. in the UK, Belgium, Portugal, France and the Netherlands. Student enrolment, efficiency and completion are however not solely European issues. Dropout and non-completion of higher education have been prioritised issues in the US for a considerable time. Consequently, there has been an increased political focus on student enrolment, efficiency and completion in higher education at the national level in Sweden as well.
The aim of the study was to analyse enrolment, and study efficiency and completion among students in the teacher programme.
The theoretical underpinning in the design is constructed through concepts developed and used by Pierre Bourdieu such as social space and cultural capital (Bourdieu, 1986, 1989). Social space is understood as a social structure. The closer the individuals are in the social space under study, the more common properties they share and the reverse, the more distant they are, the fewer properties they have in common (Bourdieu, 1989). The properties, i.e. the students’ social and cultural resources are operationalised according to the notion of cultural capital, which are embodied and accumulated through the individuals’ socialisation within the family, the social class and society (Bourdieu, 1986). The students’ relative positions and positioning in the social structure, here in terms of a specific social space of higher education, are analysed by the type and amount of cultural capital that the students possess. The embodiment of cultural capital lies more or less implicitly in the educational strategies that students show when they make choices to enrol in an educational path at a specific university at a given period of time in their lives.
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