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Who you know, what you know and knowing the ropes: a review of evidence about access to higher education institutions in England

Whitty, G; Hayton, A; Tang, S; (2015) Who you know, what you know and knowing the ropes: a review of evidence about access to higher education institutions in England. Review of Education , 3 (1) pp. 27-67. 10.1002/rev3.3038. Green open access

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Abstract

This paper considers the history of access to higher education in England and reviews the evidence on the progress made in widening participation and ensuring ‘fair access’ under the New Labour governments of 1997–2010 and, insofar as is possible, under the Coalition government that has been in office since 2010. While recognising that we need also to consider the nature of what students gain access to, the focus of this particular review is on evidence about inequalities in access to higher education as presently constituted, including in particular access to what are often regarded as the most ‘prestigious’ institutions. The paper considers the various ‘barriers’ to widening participation that are said to exist—from finance, aspiration and awareness and prior attainment—and assesses claims that socio-economic inequalities in access largely disappear once prior attainment is taken into account. It then discusses the role of social and cultural capitals in perpetuating inequalities both in prior attainment and access to higher education in its various forms. The importance of ‘knowing the ropes’ is highlighted and the paper ends with a discussion of the implications of the findings of the review for future approaches to policy and research in this field.

Type: Article
Title: Who you know, what you know and knowing the ropes: a review of evidence about access to higher education institutions in England
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1002/rev3.3038
Publisher version: http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/rev3.3038
Language: English
Additional information: © 2015 The Authors. Review of Education published by John Wiley and Sons Ltd on behalf of British Educational Research Association. This is an open access article under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial License, which permits use, distribution and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited and is not used for commercial purposes. http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0/
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Education
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Education > UCL Institute of Education
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/1475904
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