Variable tuition fees and widening participation: the marketing of English institutions through access agreements

MCCAIG, C. and ADNETT, N. (2008). Variable tuition fees and widening participation: the marketing of English institutions through access agreements. In: British Educational Research Association annual conference, September 3-6 2008.

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Abstract

This paper argues that the introduction of access agreements following the establishment of the Office for Fair Access (OFFA) has led to changes in the way that higher education institutions (HEIs) position themselves in the marketplace in relation to widening participation. However, the nature of these access agreements has led to obfuscation rather than clarification from the perspective of the consumer. This paper analyses OFFA's 2008 monitoring report and a sample of 20 HEIs' original 2006 and revised or updated access agreements (2008) to draw conclusions about the impact of these agreements on the notions of 'fair access' and widening participation. The authors conclude that institutions use access agreements primarily to promote enrolment to their own programmes rather than to promote HE generally. As a consequence of this marketing focus, previous differences between pre-92 and post-92 institutions in relation to widening participation and fair access are perpetuated leading to both confusion for consumers and an inequitable distribution of bursary and other support mechanisms for the poorest applicants to HE.

Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)
Research Institute, Centre or Group: Sheffield Institute of Education
Depositing User: Ann Betterton
Date Deposited: 23 Jan 2009
Last Modified: 20 Aug 2015 12:46
URI: http://shura.shu.ac.uk/id/eprint/173

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