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The contribution of further education and sixth form colleges to widening participation in HE Lessons from the Widening Access, Student Retention and Success.

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Presentation on theme: "The contribution of further education and sixth form colleges to widening participation in HE Lessons from the Widening Access, Student Retention and Success."— Presentation transcript:

1 The contribution of further education and sixth form colleges to widening participation in HE Lessons from the Widening Access, Student Retention and Success National Programme Archive (WASRS) - a literature synthesis for the Higher Education Academy Marion Bowl

2 Outline Description of archive and syntheses Approach to FE synthesis Headlines -Formal and informal partnerships -Support for progression -Targeting under-represented groups -Curriculum initiatives to aid transition -Dual sector institutions Issues raised by the synthesis Possible areas for research?

3 WASRS National Archive Brings together literature from five national widening participation programmes operating between 1999 and 2012: -Aimhigher -Aimhigher Associates -Action on Access - Lifelong Learning Networks -What works? Student retention and success

4 Aims for the synthesis To draw together the central themes running through the archive To create a freely-available research and practice-based resource To inform policy, practice research on: student engagement, retention, success, employability and social mobility

5 7 synthesis themes The contribution of further education and sixth form colleges to widening participation The role of higher education students in widening access and improving retention Collaboration and partnership working in a competitive environment The contribution of pre-entry interventions to student retention and success Promoting social mobility by creating pathways to the professions and vocational careers: the role of progression agreements Student finance: what have we learned inform access, retention and success under the new funding regime in England? Findings from the final years of the Aimhigher Programme

6 Further education and sixth form colleges: definition and context Autonomous institutions under the Further and Higher Education Act 1992 Providing a mix of academic and vocational education and training – from basic to higher Foundation degrees since 2001 Increasing HE in FE provision in the context of government aim to increase HE participation

7 Approach Word/phrase search of archive – 95 documents identified Categorised by keywords (in Refworks) and annotated Aggregated into themes and sub-themes to structure synthesis Selection of ‘best’ evidence – 23 documents – based on: relevance scope focus rigour applicability Reduced to 7 key reports (a requirement of the contract)

8 Synthesis themes 1. Involvement in formal and informal partnerships 2. Support for progression: awareness raising, information, advice and guidance 3. Targeting under-represented groups 4. Curriculum initiatives to aid transition 5. Higher education in further education colleges

9 1. Formal and informal partnerships: key points FE rarely a ‘full partner’ in Aimhigher partnerships Importance of ‘buy in’ at all levels in college hierarchy The value of informal relationships – but the limitations of time and staffing for FE staff Importance of pre-existing, historical relationships Market competition and partnership in tension (esp. where FE is also an HE provider) Sustainability of partnerships post-funding – and with intensifying competition Areas for further research?  The nature and sustainability of partnerships to widen participation in the context of an educational marketplace  The impact of informal FE/HE links on facilitating progression

10 2. Support for progression: awareness-raising, information, advice and guidance: key points ‘Compared with A level students, vocational learners are disadvantaged because they get less information from their parents teachers, and in case of work-based learners, might even face hostility from their employers. (Hatt and Tate 2009: 28) ‘Tutors play a key role in advising and supporting learners’ progression decisions. Often learners see tutors as a more important source of support than advice and guidance specialists.’ (Aimhigher Greater Manchester 2009: 11) ‘While some tutors proactively offer information, advice and guidance, on subject and university choice, others are more reactive, attempting to answer specific learner queries or signposting to sources such as prospectuses and university websites. (Aimhigher Greater Manchester 2009: 11)

11 2. Support for progression: awareness-raising, information, advice and guidance: key points Evidence that employers unaware/uninterested in progression opportunities for staff Balance between generalist (expert careers advisor) and specialist (industry expert) advice Lack of co-ordination, training and awareness of progression opportunities among subject tutors Lack of tracking from vocational routes to higher level study Limitations of advice from family and friends, especially in rapidly-changing vocational areas Areas for further research?  The effectiveness of different models and approaches to IAG for FE learners  The impact of changing government policy on IAG in FE  Tracking learner progression from FE/vocational routes  Employer attitudes to progression

12 3. Targeting under-represented groups “The very learners whom HE needs to recruit have been and still are the traditional clientele of further education colleges. “ (Hatt and Tate 2009: 8) HEFCE target groups generally not addressed specifically Preference for a ‘whole cohort’ approach, which assumes relative under-representation of FE learners and eschews ‘singling out’ of labelled individuals Focus instead on WP in relation to specific subject areas: health, social care, early years, sport and tourism, creative industries, construction, IT and engineering Raises the issue of most under-represented groups especially care leavers Areas for further research?  Student/teacher perspectives on ‘targeting’  Impact of specific targeting initiatives

13 4. Curriculum initiatives to aid transition Mainly confined to ‘bridging units’ to smooth transition for vocational learners next level ‘Fundability’ a key issue for colleges For students, structural constraints appear to outweigh academic concerns Specific gaps identified in FE curriculum: maths for education, science for veterinary sciences Areas for further research?  Curricular/pedagogic articulation between FE and HE

14 5. Dual sector institutions ‘Targeting’ defined in terms of gender, ethnicity, age – lower SEG assumed by the vocational nature of programmes ‘Seamless progression’ inhibited by: -Different funding regimes between FE and HE within one institution -Embedded historical divisions -Lack of information on progression from levels 3 to 4 -Poor articulation between FE and HE programmes and between foundation programmes and honours top ups -Need for ‘bridging’ modules which raises the question of ‘fit’ -Some universities retaining ‘standard entry requirements’ which are a barrier, particularly for mature entrants Need for progression to be built on pre-existing partnerships Areas for further research?  Tracking progression from FE to HE – within and between institution types  The nature of IAG for FE to HE progression

15 Summary: Methodological issues Working with ‘grey’ literature – rigour, reliability and validity Gaps in the literature (e.g. access courses, teaching and learning issues, sixth form colleges) Expectations of stakeholders: ‘hidden agendas’

16 Summary: research issues  The nature and sustainability of partnerships to widen participation in the context of an educational marketplace  The impact of informal FE/HE links on facilitating progression  The effectiveness of different models and approaches to IAG for FE and HE in FE students  Tracking progression from FE to HE - within and between institution types – the social, personal and economic outcomes  The impact of changing government policy on IAG in FE  Employer attitudes to progression  Student/teacher perspectives on ‘targeting’  Impact of specific targeting initiatives  Curricular/pedagogic articulation between FE and HE


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