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Title: Investigating the transition from FE to HE : what are the lived experiences and perspectives of non-traditional learners?
Author: Burnell, Iona
Awarding Body: University of Sheffield
Current Institution: University of Sheffield
Date of Award: 2013
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The overall aim of this thesis is to investigate the experiences and lived realities of non-traditional students in higher education. In particular, students who are both mature and working class, and have progressed from further education. Further education, particularly access courses, are considered to be the non-traditional route into HE. The first chapter is an exploration of the history of higher education from its traditional elitist origins to modern day widening participation. The second chapter is an examination of further education and the access course, which has partly enabled the widening participation drive. I demonstrate that non-traditional students who have no history in the field of HE, and have progressed through the access course route, undergo a unique and profound experience in which they re-shape their identities and their perceptions of themselves. I use the theoretical framework of Bourdieu's theories of habitus and cultural capital to explore the concept of class and educational success and failure, and why, according to Bourdieu, some classes succeed in education and some do not. However, my research findings do not support an uncritical application of Bourdieu's theory; rather that one's habitus can change to accommodate new practices. The findings of the research are based on interviews with ten participants, all of whom are or have been mature working class students in HE. Following thematic analysis of the interview data, five themes emerged, revealing the journey and transformations that my participants had undergone. During the final chapter of the thesis, I explore the participants' subjective realities and, located between a critical and interpretative paradigm, situate their lived experiences of being mature working class students in the academy. I conclude this research with a discussion of my most significant finding: that more needs to be known and understood about the unique experiences of non-traditional students, in order that they feel better accommodated, and that the institution can work towards achieving full inclusivity.
Supervisor: Skelton, Alan Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ed.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available