22 SES 03 C, Employability and Transition to Work of Higher Education Graduates
Massification of higher education is an actual question when examining higher education in Europe. Traditionally, universities have been the reproducers of the social elite and they educated only the chosen few. Nowadays, university education is accessible to the majority of the population. (Scott, 1995; Hovdhaugen, 2009.) The massification of Finnish universities happened in the early 1970’s when 15 % of the age cohort entered universities (Välimaa, 2001). In 1970 less than one out of ten (9%) got a master degree, but already more than every fourth (28%) in 2010 (Statistics Finland, 2011).
Higher education students today form a heterogenic population due to their background and orientation. The new university structures bring greater demands and responsibility for the students, too. Increased student heterogeneity and the changing nature of the student body calls for a shift towards more learner-centered approaches. Widening participation enforces the universities to invest in student support and guidance more than before in order to influence on the fluency of studies and reducing drop-out risks.
In the progression of university students' studies different study path lines can be identified. Robinson (2004; 2009) has formulated a theory of the patterns of a progression based on the case studies in the Australian universities in different scientific fields. According to the results the studying process is seen as a constant interaction between the student and the learning context. The learning context in university covers course guidelines, teaching approaches, assessments and university regulations and implicitly in terms of the pre-enrolment characteristics of the students. Most students choose the direct pathway from entry to degree completion (Robinson, 2009, 98). In that case the studies will proceed smoothly without temporary interruptions or transitions to work or to other studies. Rest of the students may withdrew from their studies, or temporarily stop-out and later return to their studies (ibid., 98). These both represent the delayed pathways of progression. A few students may also transfer to other studies while others do not return at all (ibid., 98). Self-regulated learning capacities, which affect the ability to evaluate own performance, seem to be very central distinctive factors for learning when comparing successful and less successful university students with each other (Vermunt 1996; Vermetten, et. al, 1999; Hartley, Woods & Pill, 2005).
The main aim of this study is to outline especially the nature of problematic study paths and bring in light those student’s experiences that are on a problematic study trajectory. What the study and life situation of the slowly progressing or non-studied students looks like and what kinds of problems they may have in their self-regulation and management of learning and what kinds of factors are connected to these? This study is conducted in national Campus Conexus higher education development project in Finland.
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