Making It Fit: Institutional Variations in Access and Success Policies

Wednesday, 13 July 2016: 14:15
Location: Hörsaal 47 (Main Building)
Oral Presentation
Jon RAINFORD, Staffordshire University, United Kingdom
Access to Higher Education is a central concern across the world in relation to its transformative power and the contribution this has on equalizing life. For Higher Education Institutions within England and Wales, it has been a requirement since 1999 they document how they will fund measures to reduce the barriers to accessing higher education and succeeding within it.  Since 2004 they have had to set this out in an Access Agreement; an annual statement of how they will allocating funding and carry out work within their institution. The agenda for these local policies is mandated through the National Strategy for Access and Success (HEFCE and OFFA, 2014) yet whilst this work is set within a national policy context, the range of local policies is diverse with varying focuses on outreach, financial support and post-entry support.

This paper will discuss the initial findings of a Critical Discourse Analysis (Fairclough, 2003) conducted on the access agreements for 2016/7 of ten institutions across 5 cities in England. These institutions were selected with one long established university that is broadly selective (pre-1992) and one newer, recruitment focused university (post-1992) in each city. It will explore those areas of similarity and difference between institutions and will explore how different institutions focus on various areas of disadvantage and how the nature of what they do to reduce these barriers differs.  It will explore how institutional strategic missions can develop into a ‘linguistic habitus’ (Bourdieu and Wacquant, 1992) that shapes the focus of local policies in a way that shifts it in directions unintended by the author of the overarching national policy. The paper will conclude by discussing how these findings only offer a partial view of what is happening and will discuss future work on the relationship between these institutional policies and enactments.