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Title: Equal practices? : a comparative study of widening participation practices in pre- and post-92 higher education institutions
Author: Rainford, Jon
ISNI:       0000 0004 7960 8405
Awarding Body: Staffordshire University
Current Institution: Staffordshire University
Date of Award: 2019
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This thesis explores the similarities and differences in widening participation outreach practices across pre-92 and post-92 institutions. Whilst widening participation sits under one national policy, individual institutions enact this in different ways. Using a comparative approach, it highlights the ways in which gaps between policy and practice manifest. Adopting a two-phase approach, the study is as follows. A critical discourse analysis of the 2016-17 access agreements across ten institutions (five pre-92 and five post-92) was conducted in order to explore the ways in which language was used and commonalities and differences in discourses deployed in policy by different types of institution. Phase two then explored some of the emerging themes with sixteen practitioners (eight working in post-92 institutions and eight in pre-92 institutions). The findings identified a policy-practice gap in relation to a number of specific issues. These include: the role of marketisation in driving institutional agendas, who is framed as a 'potential' student, and the role understandings of aspiration play in interpreting national widening participation policy agendas. Additionally, this thesis develops a framework for understanding how individuals' personal and professional experiences can shape policy enactment in widening participation. This thesis makes distinct contributions to knowledge through foregrounding those who work in widening participation outreach roles, a previously under researched group. Additionally, the findings in relation to aspiration and potential offer new insights to the field. It also makes a clear methodological contribution through its use of creative methods both in data collection using Drawing and Lego based approaches and in dissemination through the use of comics. Additionally, a theoretical contribution is made through considering the role of temporality in understanding policy and adopting a Critical Realist approach to exploring these issues. The thesis concludes with a number of practical recommendations for national policymakers, institutional decision makers and practitioners themselves.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available