Higher education and hybrid institutions
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Higher education and hybrid institutions Widening participation policy as experienced in FE/HE institutions. Ann-Marie Bathmaker, UWE Bristol UK. Overview. Widening Participation in HE and dual sector/hybrid institutions The FurtherHigher (FH) Project What is a dual sector institution?

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Ann-Marie Bathmaker, UWE Bristol UK

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Higher education and hybrid institutionsWidening participation policy as experienced in FE/HE institutions

Ann-Marie Bathmaker, UWE Bristol UK


  • Widening Participation in HE and dual sector/hybrid institutions

  • The FurtherHigher (FH) Project

  • What is a dual sector institution?

  • Conceptualising WP in HE in the context of the FH project

  • The experience of adult/mature students

  • Conclusions


This paper is based on work contributing to an ESRC TLRP project entitled Universal access and dual regimes of further and higher education.

The research team comprises:

Diane Burns, Anne Thompson, Val Thompson, Cate Goodlad (University fieldwork research team)

Andy Roberts; David Dale; Will Thomas; Liz Halford (Institution based researchers)

Ann-Marie Bathmaker (UWE), Greg Brooks, Gareth Parry (University of Sheffield), David Smith (University of Leeds) (Project directors)

Karen Kitchen (University of Sheffield) (Project administrator)

Context for WP in HE

  • Policy imperative to widen participation in HE in context of ‘knowledge economy’

  • PSA target (towards 50% participation by 2010 by 18-30 year olds)

  • 2 tertiary sectors in England:LSC/FE sector and HE sector

  • ‘Dual sector’ FE/HE institutions

The FurtherHigher project

Research questions

  • Why do we have two ‘sectors’ providing higher education in England?

  • What impact does this have on widening participation in HE?

  • How do students experience transitions between further and higher education, and between different stages of undergraduate study (level 5/6)?

FH project fieldwork

  • Fieldwork in 4 dual sector institutions

  • Transition between level 3 (FE) and level 4 (HE) AND between level 5 (2 yr HE) and level 6 (final year UG degree)

  • Interviews with students, tutors, institutional, managersdocumentary analysiscollection of fieldwork observation recordsphotographs of space and place

Adult/mature students in HE policy & the FH study

  • Who counts?Varies in different policies and placesHESA: over 21PSA policy target: not over 30

  • Older students in FH project sample mainly:

    ON Access programmes, HND, Fd Degree

    NOT ON level 3 programmes, such as BTEC National, AVCE

What is a dual sector institution?

  • A relational understanding - ‘dual sector’ institutions need to be understood in relation to other parts of HE system in England:

  • ‘elite’ universities

  • Post-1992 universities

  • FE colleges

Role of dual sector institutions

Enabling WP and transition to HE through:

  • Alternative routes

  • Second chance opportunities

  • Increased variety and geographical spread (local and regional)

  • Foundation degree provision: widening participation in HE, a progression route to Honours

  • ‘Seamless’ transition WITHIN single FE/HE institutions

What is a dual sector institution?

  • Northgreen Federal College

  • East Heath College

  • Central HE College

  • Southleigh University

  • What makes them dual?

  • What makes them dual sector?

  • All are in transition, undergoing change, but not in the same direction

Changing the landscape of HE in England

  • Elite, mass, universal (Trow, 1973) Features of all 3 in current system

  • Differentiation and stratification

  • Changing configuration of the landscape of HE

Conceptualising WP in HE in dual sector institutions

  • Cultural understanding of learning drawing on the ESRC Transforming Learning Cultures in FE project (http://www.education.ex.ac.uk/tlc/project.htm)

  • Relational understanding of the HE system

  • Institutional habitus and cultures of HEBourdieu, 1990, 1996; Bourdieu and Passeron, 1990Reay, David and Ball, 2005

  • Constructions of habitus, culture and ‘position’

  • Structure and agency in the practices of WP

Preliminary insights from the FurtherHigher Project

Significant aspects of teaching and learning cultures in dual sector institutions with particular reference to adult/mature students:

Space and place

UCAS and applying for HE

Expectations of HE

Sample of ‘mature’ students from Northgreen Federal College

Space and place

  • What do students name as important about space and place?

  • What signifies ‘higherness’?What signifies ‘furtherness’?

  • Different ‘cultures’ in different parts of an institution

Space and place

  • Car parking and accessibility

  • A place where I belong, a place that belongs to me

  • ‘school cultures’: conflict with ‘adult’ identities

Teaching room at Daiston Campus site of Northgreen Federal College

Wall display in teaching room at Daiston Campus site of Northgreen Federal College

College notice at Tultry College site of Northgreen Federal College

UCAS and applying for HE

  • Surviving UCAS

  • Support:cold knowledgehot knowledge

  • Getting an offer to study

Expectations of HE

  • Will I fit in?

  • Will I be clever enough?

  • Will there be any students like me? (adult/mature)

    Expectations of HE describe anticipated ‘higherness’ and by implication, experience of ‘furtherness’

HE is harder

  • Harder, a big jump

  • so need to move into 1st or 2nd year, not final year

  • More intense

  • A lot more work

  • Stricter deadlines

  • Dissertations

  • Exams

HE requires independence

  • Independent study and self-direction

  • More independent research

  • Use the library a lot more

  • Less individual support

Relationships with others

  • Much bigger classes

  • Different atmosphere: not so close knit Lecturers less approachable

  • Doctors and professors: lofty and straight-laced

Current study means students are ready for the move to HE

  • Excited

  • ‘Good’ nervousness

  • Lizzie:I can’t wait to start, I really can’t wait to start

ConclusionsMixed economy: mixed experiences

  • Institutions pulled in different directions

  • Formal systems and structures may discourage

  • Local relationships may encourage


This is linked to a wider context of change:

  • Dual sector institutions in transition

  • HE system in transition

  • Focus of WP policies in transition

Contact details

  • Ann-Marie [email protected]

  • The FurtherHigher Projecthttp://www.shef.ac.uk/furtherhigher/

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