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Reasons for choosing a further education: the views of 700 new entrants

Connelly, Graham and Halliday, John S. (2001) Reasons for choosing a further education: the views of 700 new entrants. Journal of Vocational Education and Training, 53 (2). pp. 181-192. ISSN 1363-6820

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This article explores some reasons for choosing a further education given by 700 new entrants to 10 Scottish further education colleges. It tries to distinguish between instrumental reasons, such as those concerned with the quest for employment and what students perceive as most intrinsically worthwhile about a further education. It also tries to identify some of the methods of communication that are most effective in attracting students to further education. It seems that leaflets and mail shots are by far the most effective methods of communication before students enter college. The local reputation of the college as a place where good social relationships are fostered including those fostered in the classroom seems more important than the resources devoted to teaching. Even though many new entrants cite instrumental reasons as being very important, detail in the curriculum seems to be much less important to them. We speculate that this is because students are prepared to trust such detail to teachers they perceive to be good. Colleges therefore have an opportunity, if not a responsibility, to take students beyond instrumentalism.