Bridging the gap between transition from fe to he evaluation of a spiky profile
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Bridging the gap between transition from FE to HE: Evaluation of a ‘spiky profile’. Helen Bussell & Lesley Mulcahy Teesside University Business School. ‘Spiky Profile’ ( DfIUS , 2001). Preparation for Higher Education (PHE) [Also PP & PEBP]

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Bridging the gap between transition from FE to HE: Evaluation of a ‘spiky profile’

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Bridging the gap between transition from FE to HE: Evaluation of a ‘spiky profile’

Helen Bussell & Lesley Mulcahy

Teesside University Business School

‘Spiky Profile’ (DfIUS, 2001).

  • Preparation for Higher Education (PHE)

    [Also PP & PEBP]

  • Redcar & Cleveland CFE in collaboration with Teesside University

  • Aim

    • to remove perceived barriers to progressing to HE

    • to encourage more students to apply to university

    • to prepare students for working more effectively in HE

    • to improve communication & academic skills

  • Important for the progression of students from RCC and as an element of TU widening participation strategy


  • Stage 1 of a longitudinal evaluation study

  • Focus groups

    • Current RCC students

  • In-depth interviews

    • Progressing students

    • Module leaders & deliverers at RCC

    • Module leaders & deliverers at TU

  • Secondary data analysis

Student views

“Twenty Uni credits. It sounds like a form of currency, doesn’t it?...You can’t buy anything with it”.

“I just didn’t want to do it, I didn’t want to go to University anyway and then that course just made me not want to go even more”.

“I didn’t understand why we were really doing it and I just thought what a waste of three hours on an afternoon when you could be doing something else…. I didn’t want to do it at first..... I just thought it’s pointless ….but I thought it was quite good in the end.”

Student views

“It made it less scary.”

“It wasn’t like a foreign building. You’d been in. You’d been around……I don’t know whether it’s just a coincidence and it would have happened anyway but you fit right in straight away to the University, the way that you write and your referencing and everything.”

“I probably wouldn’t have come if I hadn’t have done that module because I was really unsure about it, just to come in. It just really changed my mind. I can’t even put my finger on what changed my mind but just being here it did and I’m quite glad it did.”

Staff views

“Spiky profile...I don’t think people know what it is. I think the name’s unusual”

“Some tutors who are not connected with this are not very convinced by it.....It’s the support mechanism from tutors not involved. I think that’s the weakness.....It’s tutors who say it’s a load of rubbish. And you say it isn’t......You need to get everyone buying into it.”

“They’ve gained a lot in confidence as well and their perception of the university for several of them has changed quite a bit...I think they’ve realised it isn’t just for posh kids, anybody can come to university if they’ve got the qualifications”

Staff views

“The feedback I got from Nottingham Trent was that they felt that ‘X’ as a student was much better prepared for degrees than their average student, which is lovely, because she was a good student but she was somebody who did not particularly enjoy or want to do the PHE Unit but she got a tremendous amount of benefit from it”

“They’ve really settled in very quickly and it’s been a very good transition into university life”




Integration of systems

Systems within CFE & HE




Integration in curriculum

Student & staff engagement

Expansion of programme

  • Widens participation

  • Increases diversity & equality

  • Relationship building

  • Skills & confidence gaining

  • Recruitment tool


  • Address challenges

  • Staff development

  • Sharing best practice

  • Continuing evaluation

  • Comparative study

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