Increased participation in post-compulsory education is regarded by politicians as an important contribution to equal educational opportunities. However, international studies have shown that not all upper secondary education, particularly vocational education and training (VET), leads to improved educational opportunities.
Therefore, this project investigates the transition processes between vocational and higher education (HE). The underlying assumption is that people with vocational qualifications can widen participation in HE. The project will test this assumption by analysing a number of existing datasets, most importantly HE access data provided by UCAS for the last ten years and HE participation data from HESA. The resulting map of the landscape of transition will then be further investigated using a focused research design looking at the learning experiences of young people who have made the transition from VET to HE. Factors affecting their transition processes will be identified and their perceptions of the learning environments at universities and colleges will be investigated. The project regards learning and teaching processes as intertwined, and, therefore, the perceptions of HE lecturers and admissions staff regarding students with a background in vocational education will be analysed.
These two parts of the project are supplemented by User Forums bringing together practitioners in HE and VET. These Forums have a twofold role: firstly, they will be used to discuss and disseminate the findings of the project to make them relevant to the widening participation agenda. Secondly, the User Forums will refine the project's research questions and develop new tasks for the quantitative and the qualitative part of the project. The overall aim of the User Forums is to develop ways in which the transition of people between the contexts of VET and HE be facilitated and in which the learning experience of these people in HE can be improved.