22 SES 12 B, Comparative View of Extra-Curricular Activities: Transitions to and from Higher Education
One of the messages of the tuition fee increase in England in 2012 is that higher education is increasingly seen first and foremost as a personal investment with the returns enjoyed by the individual, rather than perceived to be a public good (Cohn, 1979, Becker, 1993, Callender, 2012). The employability agenda has been growing in importance in the past decade especially with universities quoting graduate destination rates in their marketing material more and more frequently. The recent policy changes also aimed to focus attention on the broadly defined ‘student experience’. The paper aims to understand the role of extra-curricular activities within this context: why do students join societies, sport clubs and take up employment during their first year of studies? How do these activities compare across the different student groups and demographics? Why do other students not join any of such activities? This paper builds on a longitudinal research project tracking students who started their studies at a British university. It uses the first year interviews conducted with 40 students who started their undergraduate degree in 2013. Beyond the student perspective this paper analyses the institutional approach to the extra-curricular activities, pointing out how the recently implemented Higher Education Achievement Report at this university aims to capture and document student activities beyond the core syllabus of each course. This paper suggests that although participation in student societies and other extra-curricular activities is increasingly seen as an important item on a graduate’s curriculum vitae, they have further important role in integrating students into the university life. This aspect has a particular importance during the first year transition to university. With this in mind, it is also important to understand why other students do not participate and whether their non-participation goes along with certain demographic inequalities referred to in the widening participation literature.
Becker, G. S. (1993). Human Capital. A theoretical and Empirical Analysis with Special Reference to Education. Chicago and London: The University of Chicago Press. Callender, C. (2012). The 2012/13 reforms of higher education in England: changing student finances and funding. In M. Kilkey, G. Ramia & K. Farnsworth (Eds.), Social Policy Review 24: Analysis and debate in social policy 2012. Bristol: Policy Press. Cohn, E. (1979). The economics of education. Cambridge, Mass.: Ballinger
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