Beyond Graduation: trajectories of graduates from higher education in North Wales

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    Research areas

  • |PhD, School of Social Sciences

Abstract

Higher education is in a state of transformation, with the economic recession leading to an even greater emphasis on graduate outcomes. Existing UK-wide research suggests that graduate opportunities are influenced by pre-entry characteristics; institution attended and subject studied, as well as the individual’s store of social capital. The research for this study uses data from a cohort of graduates in North Wales to explore the issues in further detail. The mixed methods design compares secondary data on access, student experience and destinations with original survey and interview data. A critique of the current emphasis on graduate outcomes six months after graduation leads to a focus on longer-term trajectories. The results from graduates from four different types of degree awarding institutions and three specific subjects – chosen for contrast and convenience – reveal both similarities and differences compared with existing studies. Whilst the findings support existing research on pre-entry factors, they also indicate that regional assets e.g. Welsh language skills, access to transport and local networks, influence the patterns of subsequent trajectories. The more biographical and extended longitudinal approach contributes to the literature on graduates by providing an analytical typology of their post-graduation trajectories. It also contributes to Bourdieu-inspired theoretical discussion of inequalities in higher education and beyond. The study has implications for policy and practice in universities, careers services and the Higher Educational Statistics Agency (HESA).

Details

Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
Supervisors/Advisors
  • Howard Davis (Supervisor)
Thesis sponsors
  • Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC)
Award dateJan 2014