"Widening Participation" attracts considerable media coverage, although there is minimal coverage of postgraduate study for widening participation students. This is an area of interest for Penny Jane Burke, Professor of Education at Roehampton University. Her recent research into transition to Masters level study has reached some interesting conclusions.
What I discovered was that progress to a Masters depends on where you studied for your first degree. Working class and black and ethnic minority students tend to be concentrated in post 1992 institutions, which are less likely to have a critical mass of research active staff.
She also comments that the postgraduate world is exclusive and competitive - and that non-traditional students report a sense of not fitting in: that they feel not good enough, and impostors. In an endeavour to counteract this perception, a joint community-based venture by Birkbeck, University of London, and the University of East London, is noteworthy. A new campus, University Square, Stratford, is occupied by UEL during the day and Birkbeck in the evening, and one aim is to improve recruitment to postgraduate study for "widening participation" students who live in this geographical location. Whilst a first degree is a successful outcome, easily accessed opportunities for postgraduate study is surely equitable and desirable.
Penny Jane-Burke will be speaking at the UALL 2014 Annual Conference in London (9-11 April). For further information about the Conference, please see the 'Events' page on our website or click here