The division between further and higher education in England is long-standing. This project examined the impact of this separation on strategies to widen participation in undergraduate education. Does it advance or inhibit a broadening of participation, or is its influence otherwise neutral?
This influence was investigated at three levels:
At the system level, the findings of policy interviews and statistical studies will be compared with international evidence on analogous systems.
At the institutional level, a typology of dual sector organisations, partnerships and networks will be developed from an analysis of national datasets and a survey of further and higher education establishments.
At the level of learning and teaching, fieldwork conducted in four partner institutions will assess the significance and meaning of moving between further and higher education and between short-cycle and first-degree education.
A key element in the study was research collaboration and capacity-building with partner institutions. Small-scale longitudinal studies of students and interviews with managers and tutors involved regular visits to each institution over two years. The research team worked with four institution-based research associates, each seconded for one day a week.