The mixed-method study explores academic, social and emotional aspects of transition from school to higher education in Ukraine. The key question the study addressed is: What issues ethnic minority students from rural communities are facing in terms of their access to Ukrainian universities? At the centre of the enquiry are Polish, Hungarian and Romanian ethnic minority students attending rural schools in Ukraine on the border with the EU. The perceptions and aspirations of the ethnic minority students were compared to those of the Ukrainian students attending rural schools in Kharkov region, Ukraine.
In its theoretical framing the study draws upon Bourdieu’s conceptual tools (i.e. habitus–capital–field) detailed in Reay (2004) and the special issues of the Cambridge Journal of Education (e.g. Gale and Lingard, 2015; Gale and Parker, 2015; Reay, 2015). Another important theoretical concept the study is building upon is the phenomenon of mismatch between habitus and field. Bourdieu describes the phenomenon of mismatch between habitus and field as ‘critical moments when [habitus] misfires or is out of phase’ (Bourdieu, 2000, p. 162).
As McDonough and Polzer (2012, p. 326) explain, the mismatch happens when a field undergoes major changes as a result of which new rules and regularities emerge or when an individual enters a new field. To operate effectively in the new field requires new dispositions, a new sense of what actions are possible, appropriate, and so on. At the same time, because of the inertia of habitus, which has a tendency to reproduce itself (or in the case of student transition reproduce habitus nurtured in school instead of developing new dispositions required in higher education), the time delay between the changes in the field and the ability of individuals to generate practices, attitudes, and dispositions required by the ‘new’ order, is inevitable. At the same time, the time needed to transform the habitus depends on the individual’s ability to access the resources and support structures needed to achieve this task.
Bourdieu’s notion of habitus and the mismatch between the habitus and the field explain the difficulties that rural students are facing with in adjusting to university and city life. In the Ukrainian context, where the differences between rural and urban lifestyles and income levels are significant, students from rural areas need to develop an ability and resilience to live through these changes. In Reay’s words they need to ‘stretch [their habitus] to the limit’ (Reay, 2015, p.13) – a process that can negatively affect students’ well-being, trigger psychological stress, dissatisfaction, withdrawal, questioning, and a search for a new sense of ‘self’. In situations like these, students are particularly vulnerable, as they need to find resources in themselves and their environment that will assist them in the process of transition. Rural students with less economic, social, and symbolic capital have fewer resources to turn to so as to maximise their chances of successful transition to HE.
Ball, S. J., Reay, D.and David, M. (2002) ‘Ethnic Choosing’: Minority ethnic students, social class and higher education choice, Race Ethnicity and Education, vol. 5, no. 4, pp. 333-357. Gale, T. and Lingard, B. (2015) ‘Evoking and provoking Bourdieu in educational research’, Cambridge Journal of Education, 45 (1), 1–8. Gale, T. and Parker, S. (2015) ‘Calculating student aspiration: Bourdieu, spatiality and the politics of recognition’, Cambridge Journal of Education, 45 (1), 81–96. Kulyk, V. (2013). Combining identity and integration: comparative analysis of schools for two minority groups in Ukraine. Compare: A Journal of Comparative and International Education, 43(5), 622-645. McDonough, P. and Polzer, J. (2012) ‘Habitus, hysteresis, and organizational change in the public sector’, Canadian Journal of Sociology/Cahiers canadiens de sociologie, 37 (4), 357–379. Oksamytna, S., Vynohradov, O., Malysh, L., Martseniuk, T. (2010). Molod Ukrainy: Vid osvity do pratsi [Youth of Ukraine: from education to employment]. [in Ukrainian]. http://www.ekmair.ukma.edu.ua/handle/123456789/1431 Reay, D. (2004) ‘“It's all becoming a habitus”: Beyond the habitual use of habitus in educational research’, British Journal of Sociology of Education, vol. 25, no. 4, pp. 431–444. Reay, D. (2015) ‘Habitus and the psychosocial: Bourdieu with feelings’, Cambridge Journal of Education, vol. 45, no. 1, pp. 9–23. Reay, D., David, M. E., and Ball, S. J. (2005) Degrees of Choice: Class, Race, Gender and Higher Education, Stoke‐on‐Trent, Trentham Books. Reay, D., Davies, J., David, M. and Ball, S. J. (2001) ‘Choices of degree or degrees of choice? Class, “race” and the higher education choice process’, Sociology, 35 (4), 855–874. Shevchenko, S., М. (2016, November). Rozvytok shkil natsionalnyh menshyn u konteksti dyferentsiasii zahalnoi serednioi osvity (1991-2010). [Development of national minorities schools in the context of differentiation of the secondary education]. [in Ukrainian] International Scientific and Practical Conference “WORLD SCIENCE” ,Issue Number 11(15), 42-46. http://lib.iitta.gov.ua/705088/1/%D0%A8%D0%B5%D0%B2%D1%87%D0%B5%D0%BD%D0%BA%D0%BE%20%D0%A1.%D0%9C.%202016.pdf Stadnyy, E., and Slovodian, O. (2016). Ukrainski studenty za kordonom: Skilky i chomu [Ukrainian students abroad: how many and why?]. [In Ukrainian] https://www.cedos.org.ua/uk/osvita/ukrainski-studenty-za-kordonom-skilky-ta-chomu Webster, B. J. and Yang, M. (2012) ‘Transition, induction and goal achievement: First-year experiences of Hong Kong undergraduates’, Asia Pacific Education Review, vol. 13, no. 2, pp. 359–368.
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