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Title: Navigating choices to a professional career : the role of subject choice in widening access to universities and the professions
Author: Dilnot, Catherine Elizabeth
ISNI:       0000 0004 7660 4353
Awarding Body: UCL (University College London)
Current Institution: University College London (University of London)
Date of Award: 2019
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This thesis examines the role of subject choice in widening access to elite universities and to an elite professional financial services firm. The analysis takes place at three transition points in the educational trajectory of young people: at 16+, 18+ and at graduation from university. It provides new evidence about these transitions in three ways. First, using a taxonomy of A-levels developed for this thesis, it uses administrative population data for three cohorts of English students to examine the relationship between social background and A-level subject choices categorised according to their published efficacy for university entry. Less privileged young people are less likely to take A-levels universities say they prefer, but the considerable observed gap is largely accounted for by prior attainment and choices of subjects and qualification types at 14-16. Prior attainment is also of primary importance at the second point of transition, at 18+, but analysis using linked national school and university data suggests that A-level subject choices do make a difference to ranking of university attended, over and above attainment. Finally, the importance of prestige of university and the subject of study in the third transition, to graduate employment in an elite profession is considered, using newly available applications and admissions data from a large professional financial services firm. Again, the large raw gap in success rates by university type is almost entirely accounted for by prior attainment, although degree course subject plays a minor role. The direct effect of A-level subject choice is negligible at this transition. The overall thrust of this thesis is that prior attainment and earlier qualifications choices have consequences at each transition, but, over and above attainment, A-level choices can affect high status university entry, and hence, to some extent, gaining a top graduate traineeship.
Supervisor: Goodman, A. ; Macmillan, L. Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available