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The University of Southampton
Southampton Education School

Research project: Non-participation in HE: decision-making as an embedded social practice - Dormant - Dormant

Currently Active: 

2006 - 2008

The overarching aim of the project was to develop theoretical and empirical understandings of how intergenerational networks influence adults’ decisions about education and employment. The research involved interviews with key informants involved in widening participation in Higher Education from across the policy and practice arenas. Sixteen networks were developed involved an ‘entry point’ who was someone aged over 21 who had a Level 3 qualification but had not (yet) participated in HE. This person nominated a selection of their family and friends to participate in the study. Interviews were carried out twice with the ‘entry point’ and once each with all network members.

Conference participants, May 2008

Four key findings emerged:

  • No single agency has the widening of participation in HE across the life course as its core mission.
  • The ‘potentially recruitable’ in our research are living comfortable, stable lives and usually see little need to participate in HE.
  • The benefits of HE need to be made more apparent to this group. Identification with entrants to HE who are ‘people like me’ in terms of education, social and employment background influences decision-making across and within generations
  • HE experiences within social networks critically shape the perceptions of ‘potentially recruitable’ adults across and within generations

A book based on the research project entitled: ‘Rethinking Widening Participation in Higher Education: the role of social networks’ is being published by Routledge in Spring 2011.

Co-directors: Professor Alison Fuller, Professor Sue Heath (for further information please contact Alison Fullier).

Funding bodies: Teaching & Learning Research Programme (TLRP), Economic & Social Research Council (ESRC).

Related research groups

Lifelong and Work-Related Learning (LaWRL) Research Centre
Educational and career decision-making
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