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Publication Detail
Socioeconomic background and UK applicants’ choice of UK Higher Education Institution: a systematic review
  • Publication Type:
    Conference presentation
  • Publication Sub Type:
  • Authors:
    Alexander K, Harrison D, Rees E, Woolf K
  • Date:
  • Name of Conference:
    BERA Annual Conference 2021
  • Conference start date:
  • Conference finish date:
  • Keywords:
    widening participation, Higher Education, Widening Access, Institution choice
This systematic review narratively synthesises academic and grey literature (2010 - 2020) about how UK applicants’ socioeconomic background influences higher education institution (HEI) choice. Results indicate that little has fundamentally changed despite extensive governmental policy to widen access (increase diversity). Like their more advantaged counterparts, less advantaged applicants prefer more prestigious institutions but face greater barriers to attending. Attainment and secondary school type are pivotal in explaining prestigious HEI attendance. Less advantaged applicants begin making decisions with narrower horizons and have less support to understand and critically evaluate their options. The review questions the dominant presentation of a prestigious HEI choice as optimal instead of a more holistic measure, and highlights that less advantaged applicants require better support to understand the information available to make informed and effective choices. Although studies exist, there are notable knowledge gaps regarding undermatch and the impact of widening access policies including contextual admissions.
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