22 SES 05 B, Employability and Transition to Work of Higher Education Graduates
Parallel Paper Session
Debates over the most effective ways to prepare students in upper secondary and further education for transition into higher education have played a significant part in education policy in recent decades, both in the UK and more widely. However, it has generally proved difficult to provide robust empirical evidence as to the effects of different approaches.
UK devolution and the development of distinctive policies on preparation for HE in the constituent countries of the UK provides new opportunities to investigate these issues empirically. In Wales, the Welsh Baccalaureate Qualification now constitutes a significant part of the Welsh Government’s approach to 14-19 provision, with all schools and colleges in Wales expected to offer the qualification in the next few years. It represents a distinctive approach to preparation for HE entry, combining existing qualifications (A levels, GNVQs, etc.) with a broadly based core, designed to develop key skills. UCAS opted to award the WBQ a tariff of 120 points (the equivalent of an A grade at A-level) to facilitate university entry. The question remains, however, of how effective this approach is in preparing students for HE. Drawing upon data from five years of entrants in one British university this paper begins, for the first time, to examine the impact of the WBQ on students in their undergraduate courses. In particular, by means of logistic regression analysis, the research attempts to isolate the influence of having the WBQ from other known student characteristics on a range of progress and outcome measures, including degree results, average yearly marks, and whether students had to undertake resits or not. Before presenting the findings the paper raises a number of critical methodological issues in attempting to undertake this kind of statistical analysis.
The findings are very surprising. We find strong evidence to suggest that after controlling for prior attainment, gender, age, social class, etc, having the WBQ has a generally adverse influence on most outcome measures. In other words, students with the WBQ tend to do less well in this University than students without the WBQ, all other things being equal.
These findings have great importance, particularly in terms of how it should be used in university admissions, and also the credibility of the WBQ itself. But the findings also highlight a wider tension between the development of holistic curricula, HE and, by implication, preparation for the labour market.
Hoare, A. and Johnston, R. (2010) 'Widening participation through admissions policy - a British case study of school and university performance', Studies in Higher Education, First published on: 08 September 2010 (iFirst) Phillips, G. and Pound, T. (Eds) (2003) 'The baccalaureate: a model for curriculum reform', London: Routledge
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