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EQUAL PRACTICES? A COMPARATIVE STUDY OF WIDENING PARTICIPATION PRACTICES IN PRE AND POST-92 HIGHER EDUCATION INSTITUTIONS

Rainford, Jon (2019) EQUAL PRACTICES? A COMPARATIVE STUDY OF WIDENING PARTICIPATION PRACTICES IN PRE AND POST-92 HIGHER EDUCATION INSTITUTIONS. Doctoral thesis, Staffordshire University.

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Abstract or description

This thesis explores the similarities and differences in widening participation
outreach practices across pre-92 and post-92 institutions. Whilst widening
participation sits under one national policy, individual institutions enact this in
different ways. Using a comparative approach, it highlights the ways in which
gaps between policy and practice manifest. Adopting a two-phase approach, the
study is as follows. A critical discourse analysis of the 2016-17 access agreements
across ten institutions (five pre-92 and five post-92) was conducted in order to
explore the ways in which language was used and commonalities and differences
in discourses deployed in policy by different types of institution. Phase two then
explored some of the emerging themes with sixteen practitioners (eight working
in post-92 institutions and eight in pre-92 institutions).
The findings identified a policy-practice gap in relation to a number of specific
issues. These include: the role of marketisation in driving institutional agendas,
who is framed as a ‘potential’ student, and the role understandings of aspiration
play in interpreting national widening participation policy agendas. Additionally,
this thesis develops a framework for understanding how individuals’ personal
and professional experiences can shape policy enactment in widening
participation.
This thesis makes distinct contributions to knowledge through foregrounding
those who work in widening participation outreach roles, a previously under
researched group. Additionally, the findings in relation to aspiration and potential
offer new insights to the field. It also makes a clear methodological contribution
through its use of creative methods both in data collection using Drawing and
Lego based approaches and in dissemination through the use of comics.
Additionally, a theoretical contribution is made through considering the role of
temporality in understanding policy and adopting a Critical Realist approach to
exploring these issues. The thesis concludes with a number of practical
recommendations for national policymakers, institutional decision makers and
practitioners themselves.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Faculty: School of Life Sciences and Education > Education
Depositing User: Library STORE team
Date Deposited: 07 May 2019 12:48
Last Modified: 07 May 2019 12:48
URI: http://eprints.staffs.ac.uk/id/eprint/5610

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