Widening access or narrowing student choice? The re-emergence of elitism in the UK higher education system

Stephen Talbot, James Johnston, Alan Reeves

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Higher education systems in many parts of the world have struggled to reconcile falling state support with widening access and increasing participation of previously excluded groups. Evidence from the UK higher education system suggests that this tension has led to the re-emergence of a bifurcation of the education system along social class lines. The paper explores the experience of the different categories of UK-university as they manage the changed socio-economic environment in which they operate. Contrary to the aims of much EU policy and the various structural changes introduced within the higher education sector since the 1960s, lessons from the UK experience suggest that a form of elitism has re-emerged in the provision of certain subjects. We show how a combination of market forces, government policy and other developments in the UK higher education landscape may lead to the withdrawal of the key subjects for many vulnerable groups. We look at economics provision across the UK to show how a silent process of differentiation and stratification may take place and that this may be to the detriment of national policies on social inclusion in higher education.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)20-27
Number of pages8
JournalIAFOR Academic Review
Volume2
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2016

Fingerprint

Dive into the research topics of 'Widening access or narrowing student choice? The re-emergence of elitism in the UK higher education system'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this