1st Edition

Improving Opportunities to Engage in Learning
A Study of the Access to Higher Education Diploma

ISBN 9780367488109
Published February 24, 2020 by Routledge
158 Pages

USD $49.95

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Book Description

Improving Opportunities to Engage in Learning investigates the experiences of mature adult learners returning to formal education. The book challenges the policy discourses in which Access to Higher Education survives by suggesting that continuing education is more about determination by students to alter their identities and career opportunities than meeting narrow performative criteria of financial targets. Chapters explore students’ struggles with institutional and social structures in the current political and socio-economic climate, before identifying how the transformation of their learner identities is facilitated in the courses by collaborative cultures and supportive tutors.

The book addresses a research gap in knowledge about students’ and tutors’ experiences of Access to Higher Education courses, presenting a broad perspective on the importance and difficulties of such courses through listening to the voices of students and tutors undertaking a variety of Access to HE pathways. The authors argue that despite success on their courses benefiting the national economy as well as students individually, the social and financial costs of continuing education is almost entirely shifted onto students’ shoulders by policymakers. Despite the costs, students can still see Access to HE as a chance to improve their lives, reflecting the neoliberal discourse of personal responsibility and risk embedded in broader national social and policy discourses.

Improving Opportunities to Engage in Learning will be of great interest to researchers, academics and postgraduate students in the fields of further and higher education, widening participation, social justice and sociology of education, and education policy and politics.

Table of Contents




Part 1 Closed Doors

Chapter 1 The Landscape of the Access to Higher Education Diploma

Chapter 2 Researching the Access to HE Diploma

Part 2 Stepping Through the Door

Chapter 3 The Impact of Social and Economic Contexts on Accessing HE

Chapter 4 Struggling to Return to Formal Learning: Becoming as an Access to HE Student

Chapter 5 Practices of Transition: Being an Access to HE Student

Chapter 6 The Access to HE Course as a Community of Practice

Part 3 Opening Doors

Chapter 7 Access to Higher Education Tutors’ Stories

Chapter 8 Using Inclusive Teaching and Learning Strategies on the Access to HE Course

Chapter 9 The Significance and Importance of the Access to HE Diploma for Students Returning to Education


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Nalita James is Associate Professor in Lifelong Learning at the University of Leicester.

Hugh Busher is Associate Professor in Education at the University of Leicester.