Undergraduate Students Perspectives on Equitable Higher Education Experiences

Andrea Yankah

University of Roehampton

Froebel began training teachers in 1833 and this legacy continued by his students on a global scale resulting in the training of 5000 women by 1908 (Ailwood, 2007; Liebschner, 1992; May, 1997; Read, 2013; Weston, 2008; Wiebe, 1896). This legacy continues the drive to improve qualifications for those working in Early Childhood, often referred to as ‘professionalising the workforce’ (Colmer, 2017; Dalli, Miller, and Urban, 2012; Lightfoot and Frost, 2015; Osgood, 2010; Tucker, 2004). A highly qualified education sector improves the lives of children, in particular those from low socio-economic backgrounds (Dalli et al., 2012; Penn, 2014). Save the Children (2018) recently published findings of a decline in individuals undertaking undergraduate education courses, resulting in a shortage of 11,000 early years teachers. The Office for Students reports disparities in progression and pass rates for students who enter Higher Education Institution’s with Vocational Qualifications (OfS, 2018; 2019). Considering Early Years Practitioners are deemed as qualified when they have a Vocational Qualification under the full and relevant list (DfE, 2017), this is concerning. Adopting a paradigm of Critical Education Research (Hyland, 2010 & Cohen et al., 2018) and building on previous work undertaken at Masters Level, this thesis gathers the perspectives of undergraduate students on their academic experiences and how they feel Higher Education Institutions can effectively support them to achieve the outcomes they desire. Applying a mixed methods approach to a paradigm of Critical Educational Research (Habermas, 1972), students and academic staff from 5 Higher Education Institutions in England will be recruited for this study; data will be elected through questionnaires and focus group discussions. The findings from this project will inform recommendations for academic staff, Higher Education Institutions, government and student bodies such as Student Union and the Office for Students, on how to adopt equitable practices for all students. 

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