The University of Southampton
Southampton Education School

Professor Alison Fuller BA, PhD

Director of Research

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Professor Alison Fuller is Director of Research within Southampton Education School at the University of Southampton.

Prior to joining the Southampton Education School at Southampton, Alison Fuller held research and academic posts at the Universities of Lancaster and Leicester. She completed her doctoral research on changing patterns of adult take up of qualifications at the Institute of Education, University of London.

Alison is currently Professor of Education and Work, and Head of the Lifelong and Work-Related Learning Research Centre at the University of Southampton. She has been conducting funded research in the fields of education – work transitions; vocational education, training and apprenticeship; patterns of adult participation in education, and workplace learning – since the mid 1980s and has published widely. Her most recent book, Improving Working as Learning, co-authored with Alan Felstead, Lorna Unwin and Nick Jewson, was published by Routledge in 2009 and won a prize from the Society of Educational Studies in 2010. Alison is a member of the UK Commission for Employment and Skills' Expert Panel.

With colleagues from the Institute of Education, National Institute for Social and Economic Research and the University of Bristol, Alison has been awarded ESRC funding to develop the 'Centre for Learning and Life Chances in Knowledge Economies and Societies' (LLAKES). Alison's research in LLAKES is focusing on the role of city regions in in enhancing life-chances through education and training.

The first research report from this study, 'Economic Regeneration, Social Cohesion, and the Welfare-to-Work Industry: Innovation, Opportunity and Compliance in the City-Region' from this study is now available to download at

Alison is a founding member (with Susan Halford, Pauline Leonard (School of Social Sciences) and Catherine Pope (School of Health Sciences), of the Work Futures Research Centre, one of the University’s Strategic Research Groups. The Centre has created a multi-disciplinary network of researchers from across the University and provides a forum for the development of research ideas and projects focusing on a diverse range of work, learning and employment-related issues (

Alison's recently funded projects include Non-participation in Higher Education: decision-making as an embedded social practice, commissioned by the ESRC; an evaluation of the Computer Clubs for Girls initiative for the South East of England Development Agency; research (with Julie Wintrup, School of Health Sciences and Jill Turbin) on progression to Higher Education from Apprenticeship (funded by the Hampshire and Isle of Wight Lifelong Learning Network); research into workplace learning for hospital porters (with Lorna Unwin and Ian Laurie), funded by Southampton University Hospitals Trust; Creating and Supporting Expansive Apprenticeships (with Lorna Unwin), funded by the Learning and Skills Council; and an EU funded comparative study into the creation of 'hybrid qualifications' designed to give access to Higher Education and to the Labour Market. The study is being conducted in four countries, England, Germany, Austria and Denmark and has its own website from which reports can be downloaded:





Research interests

  • Apprenticeship
  • Patterns of Educational Participation
  • Relationship between forms of work organisation, learning and performance
  • Social theories of learning
  • Transitions between education and work
  • Vocational Education and Training
  • Workplace Learning

Research group

Lifelong and Work-Related Learning (LaWRL) Research Centre

Affiliate research groups

Design and utilisation of digital technologies ,

Research project(s)

Centre for Learning and Life Chances in city regions (LLAKES)

Computer clubs for girls: longitudinal evaluation - Dormant

Creating and managing expansive apprenticeships - Dormant

Creating an expansive learning environment in hospital portering - Dormant

Does Apprenticeship Work for Adults? The experiences of adult apprentices in England.

Evaluation of the Employer Engagement Initiative - Dormant

Finding their way? Advanced apprenticeship as a route to HE - Dormant

Hybrid qualifications: increasing the value of vocational education and training in the context of lifelong learning

New Spaces in Education: the changing nature of learning in the 21st century - Dormant

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

A member of the British Educational Research Association’s National Advisory Panel, Alison is an Associate of the ESRC National Centre for Research Methods (hosted at Southampton). She is on the editorial board for the Journal of Education and Work, Journal of Vocational Education and Training, and Education and Training, and is regularly asked to advise policy makers on vocational education and apprenticeship. For example, she was appointed Specialist Advisor to the House of Commons, Department for Innovation, Universities and Skills Select Committee for its inquiry into the Apprenticeships Bill and has advised the House of Lords Select Committee on Economic Affairs Inquiry Employment and Training Opportunities for Low-Skilled Young People.

Alison has undertaken consultancies with a range of bodies including the Construction Industry Training Board, the Bus and Coach sector training organisation, the Civil Aviation Authority, the Open University, and the YWCA, as well as a wide range of projects funded by government departments, companies such as United Distillers plc and B & Q plc, and the Equalities and Human Rights Commission.

Doctorate of Education (EdD)

Educational Practice and Innovation MSc


PhD Students

Sally Elsbury: High attrition rates in operating department practice - what are the influences for students embarking on this course?

Edward Flute: Examine the role that reputation plays in influencing parental choice of secondary school

Kaye Foskett: Does an MBA result in career success and social mobility for Indian students

Frances Lansley: The lived experience of young apprenticeships

Ian Laurie: The Apprenticeship Triquetra: The relationship between Government, education and employment in the delivery of apprenticeships

Ruth McLellan: Influences on the decision-making process: why are boys from lower socio-economic groups not participating in HE

Cate Mullen: Not in Education, Employment or Training: The Educational History of a Young Person

Debbie Thackray: An investigation into the clinical reasoning used by cardio respiratory experts in the context of critical care using SiMMan (Laerdale)

Professor Alison Fuller
Southampton Education School University of Southampton Building 32 Southampton SO17 1BJ United Kingdom
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