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What (and who) works in widening participation? Supporting direct entrant student transitions to higher education

Breeze, Maddie and Johnson, Karl and Uytman, Clare (2018) What (and who) works in widening participation? Supporting direct entrant student transitions to higher education. Teaching in Higher Education. ISSN 1356-2517

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Abstract

This article considers support programmes for direct entrant (DE) student transitions as a widening participation strategy. We reflect upon one induction and support project with 27 students transitioning from further education into the second year of undergraduate social science degree programmes in a Scottish university. We use focus group data to discuss what works (barriers to successful transitions, project successes and limitations) and primarily who works; how responsibility for supporting DE student transitions is distributed and which students benefit. Original findings confirm existing evidence that becoming an ‘independent learner’ is a challenge for DE students. However, analysis problematizes and significantly expands existing understandings of relationships with staff and peer support, and contributes new insight into how the materiality and everyday logistics of the university relate to DE student transitions. We argue for more institutionally embedded approaches to supporting student transitions, including resourcing academic staff to develop and provide this support.