Latest article: Undergraduates’ Perceptions of how Post-secondary Education Characteristics Shaped their Transition to University


Shields, S. (2023). Undergraduates’ Perceptions of how Post-secondary Education Characteristics Shaped their Transition to University. International Journal of Educational and Life Transitions, 2(1): 17, pp. 1–14. DOI: ijelt.51



You can listen to Dr Sam Shields for an overview of the article here:


Transcript of the Podcast 

You can read the transcript here:

This paper explores differences in students’ experiences of being offered a place at university. It is a small-scale study and is therefore limited in its wider transferability to the student experience. However, the findings suggested that for students who would describe their socio-economic background as middle-class, they were more likely to study in a sixth-form type of environment which was proactive in supporting university applications. Furthermore, they were a group who could draw upon familial knowledge and experience of HE. Participants who had identified as working-class were more likely to study A Levels in educational settings that were less equipped structurally and culturally to support admission to university effectively and for this specific group of participants entry into higher education was complicated and stressful and often relied on going through the UK process known as Clearing. Notably one working-class student received personalised and tailored application advice from a sixth-form teacher, and she was able to make a positive and smooth transition into HE similarly to middle-class students in the study. The paper then suggests that the significance of the role of sixth-form teachers particularly for students without a familial background of HE should be considered further.

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