Outcasts On The Inside? A Case Study Of The Career Aspirations And Experiences Of Widening Participation Students From A Merseyside College Of Higher Education

Redmond, Paul M. (2005). Outcasts On The Inside? A Case Study Of The Career Aspirations And Experiences Of Widening Participation Students From A Merseyside College Of Higher Education. EdD thesis The Open University.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.21954/ou.ro.0000c018

Abstract

Firstly, the study is of adult widening participation students in Merseyside, England. Nationally, the economic contribution made by higher education to the economy and the provision of a skilled, adaptable workforce, is a major topic of concern, and even more so in regions such as Merseyside in the North West of England, which have experienced long-term structural economic problems and recession (LSC, 2003). Consequently, it is likely that appeals to the vocational benefits of higher education are less likely to be accepted by widening participation students in Merseyside, especially if their 'horizons of action' are local rather than cosmopolitan. Social, structural and economic factors, therefore, are considered to be an important context to this thesis.

Secondly, the research is unique in that it included a number of tracer interviews with widening participation students six months after their graduation. By doing this, the research sought to utilise their subsequent vantage point to gain an understanding of their perspectives upon work, higher education and the role and potential of university-based careers education. This was particularly central to me as the researcher as I currently am in charge of careers education and guidance at Liverpool Hope University College, the Merseyside Institution of Higher Education where the research was carried out.

Thirdly, the research sought to critically examine the model of higher education student relationships to the economy proposed by Brown and Scase (1994). 1 wanted to find out if their six category model of economy-student relationships, which was developed in the early 1990s with 18-21 year old students in traditional higher education replicated, and resonated with, the points of view of mature students in a post 1992 University College sector in a depressed part of the economy. Whilst it was likely that there would be similarities, it was also considered possible that differences, were likely as a result of the regional context, the type of student and the positioning of the Institution within the hierarchy of higher education (Ball et al., 2002). It was considered highly likely that the findings will have major implications for careers education in higher education. We have a duty to ensure that the careers service is relevant to the needs of all Liverpool Hope University College students, regardless of social, cultural or academic backgrounds.

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