22 SES 05 A, Inequality and Diversity in Higher Education Settings
Since the 1990 expansion of UK higher education (HE) participation by traditionally under-represented social groups (e.g. women, mature entrants, lower socio-economic groups) increased (hesa.ac.uk). However, inroads are primarily being made into the UK’s post-92 university sector whilst older institutions remain over-represented by young, middle-class, ‘A’ level entrants (the ‘traditional’ student). This pattern is explainable by structural and cultural factors which constrain the dimensions of HE choice for ‘non-traditional’ students and impact on their experiences within a HE sector not historically constructed for them (Ball et al 2002,Bhatti 2003).
Older working-class men’s relationship to education is a concern within the UK research community and beyond (Kenway & Kraak 2004, McGivney 1999, Marks 2000). Evidence shows such men often remaining attached to increasingly irrelevant ‘traditional’ social/occupational roles and antagonistic towards education despite an evident need for it.
This paper engages with issues of widening participation. It uses findings from (PhD) research about mature men from working-class origins who were students in two Scottish ancient universities. The research asks, ‘what factors disrupt unequal patterns of HE participation, and how can these be understood?’
Thus, the research holds implications for education policy, and also for a critical appraisal of Bourdieu’s framework of education/social-class reproduction, often used in this field.
Ball, S. J., Davies, J., David, M. and Reay, D. (2002)’Classification’ and ‘Judgement’: Social Class and The ‘Cognitive Structures’ of Choice of Higher Education, British Journal of Sociology of Education, 23 (1), pp 51-72. Bhatti, G. (2003) Social Justice and Non-traditional Participants in Higher Education: A Tale of Border Crossing, Instrumentalism and Drift’, in Vincent, C. (ed) Social Justice, Education and Identity, London and New York: Routledge Falmer, pp 65-82. Kenway, J. and Kraack, A. (2004) Reordering Work and Destabilizing Masculinity, in Dolby, N., Dimitiadis, G. and Willis, P. (eds) Learning to Labor in New Times, Routledge Farmer: New York, London, pp 95-110. McGivney, V. (1999) Excluded Men: Men Who Are Missing From Education and Training, NIACE. Marks, A. (2000) Lifelong Learning and the ‘Breadwinner Ideology’: Addressing the Problems of Lack of Participation by Adult, Working-class Males in Higher Education on Merseyside, Educational Studies, 26 (3), pp 303-319.
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