Institutional widening participation policy in higher education: dealing with the issue of social class

P. Greenbank

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

The working class remain under-represented in UK higher education institutions (HEIs). There is also evidence to suggest that students from lower social classes may have greater difficulty adapting to university life because of a mismatch between their cultural capital and the middle class culture they encounter in higher education. As a result of such concerns social class has become a key focus of government policy on widening participation. This research uses interviews with key institutional policy makers in three English HEIs to gain an insight into the way policy on widening participation deals with "the issue of social class". It is argued here that a failure to clearly conceptualise who widening participation students are, and a reluctance to "label" by social class, acts as a significant barrier to the development of effective policy. Also the rejection of social class as a key influence, and the assumption that individualised factors are the main reason for student disadvantage, may lead to victim blaming, especially if support is predicated on middle class values.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-10
JournalHigher Education Quarterly
Volume8
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2006

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