‘It’s Just Not Financially Doable’: The Higher Education Decision-Making Journeys of Socioeconomically Disadvantaged Students in England

Thursday, 19 July 2018: 09:00
Oral Presentation
Zoe BAKER, The University of Sheffield, United Kingdom
The purpose of this presentation is to show how financial concerns shape the Higher Education (HE) decisions and choices of Further Education (FE) students from socioeconomically disadvantaged areas in England. Scholars have highlighted how financial concerns and constraints can influence HE choices and decision-making, with potential applicants employing various strategies to minimise the financial burden of HE. This may consist of applying to HE institutions located in areas where living costs are low (Callender and Jackson, 2008), or remaining within the family home (Patiniotis and Holdsworth, 2005). Drawing on findings from a qualitative longitudinal narrative inquiry, the presentation provides enhanced insights into the ways that financial concerns shape and restrict students’ HE decisions and choices over a 14 month period. Issues arising from financial constraints were found to emerge early in the decision-making process, limiting participation in institutional visits, and in turn, restricting access to information. Delays in the realisation of financial limitations were also apparent, with the longitudinal approach allowing students’ ‘ideal’ HE plans and later renegotiations of these, to be fully captured. The findings collectively convey that the majority of participants were unable to go where they preferred in their HE decisions, and, instead, had to decipher the ‘reasonable’ option when financial constraints were realised.