Jones, Glynn (2013) Decision-making about HEIs among students of the 'mass' HE sector. In: The Journal of Vocational Education and Training Tenth International Conference, 5-7th July 2013, Worcester College, Oxford. (Unpublished)

FE colleges have provided much recent expansion of English HE. Previous research suggests that those choosing colleges do so because of Morley Fletcher
Chair Ann Harris 41 barriers to participation at universities. The purpose of this research was
to examine the students’ decisions to study a higher education course at an FE college rather than a university in order to understand whether,
and how, they are constrained within their choices. A narrative enquiry approach was used and the interviews were examined within Bourdieu’s
framework of habitus and field. The conclusions suggest that, while previous research concerning barriers to HE is still valid, the decisions
reflected more complex strategic decisions based on individual perceptions of the benefits of spending time in higher education and the
personal and financial costs. The students were shown to seek an HE qualification because of its value in the workplace, but they chose courses
because of an instrumental rather than a vocational value. This work suggests it is important to reframe the question about participation in higher education. To ask why non-traditional students do not participate is to problematise their decisions and their value system, whereas, at least some of the problem remains with England’s narrow conceptualisation of
higher education which limits choice for these student decision-makers.

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