Narrowing Curricula: What Price Progress?

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Recent measures designed to capture the progress of higher education students may prove controversial in the coming years as they raise potential concerns around the perpetuation of social injustices. The recently introduced Proceed metric is designed to measures students’ progress and success rates in HE. However, the tracking of outcomes into specific types of career, or towards threshold salary brackets, is potentially flawed as it fails to take into account the many variables of personal and professional fulfilment, as well as career paths that are often non-linear for those who lack the necessary social capital. Moreover, new plans have also been set out by the DfE to prevent individuals from applying for student loans until they have secured the coveted grade 4 or above in GCSE English and maths.

Such attempts to ‘level up’ university entrants fail to acknowledge that the distance travelled on a university course, and, indeed, towards a career goal, is likely to be widely diversified for many individuals. Whilst this government threshold might seem to enable a higher level of completion, it disadvantages those who have the furthest to travel. It is argued in this paper, then, that these new measures will impact on the HE curricula through the restriction of many career pathways, particularly in the arts and humanities. Consequently, one resultant factor will be the narrowing of participation in HE and the negation of years of intense efforts around the expansion of opportunities for a wider section of the population.


Conference Annual Conference for Research in Education (ACRE): Transitions and Transformations: Educational Research in Rapidly Changing Contexts
Abbreviated titleACRE
Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom
Internet address


  • Curricula
  • Widening participation


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