• Achieving "transparency, consistency and fairness" in English HE admissions: progress since Schwartz?

      Adnett, Nick; McCaig Colin; Slack, Kim; Bowers-Brown, Tamsin; Sheffield Hallam University (Wiley, 2010-10-27)
      In 2004 the Schwartz Review advised English higher education institutions that their admissions systems should: be transparent; select students who are able to complete their courses based upon achievements and potential; use assessment methods that are reliable and valid; minimise barriers to applicants; be professional; and be underpinned by appropriate institutional structures and processes. These five principles were only expressed as recommendations, reflecting the reluctance of policy makers to interfere with individual higher education institutions' admissions policies. This article analyses the results of research that reviewed the progress that English higher education institutions had made in implementing the Schwartz recommendations and assess whether a more interventionist stance is required to achieve fair admissions.
    • Aimhigher: achieving social justice?

      McCaig Colin; Bowers-Brown, Tamsin; Sheffield Hallam University (British Educational Research Association Annual Conference, 2007-09)
      This paper will aim to determine how successful Aimhigher is as a potential mechanism of social justice. It is concerned primarily with the aims and intentions of the programme and how it has developed over a six year period since the launch of Excellence Challenge in 2001. It is not intended as critique of widening participation policies and practices generally; there is an ample body of literature that questions the impact of widening participation and even the notion of barriers to higher education for some groups (see particularly Gorard et al: 2006). The authors of the current paper believe that, while there are caveats about the lack of comparable datasets or 'smoking gun' causal links between intervention and enrolment, such policies are generally successful in raising educational attainment and raising aspirations and awareness of HE among underrepresented groups. The authors draw on their own and others' research that support the notion that Aimhigher in particular makes a positive difference (Bowers-Brown et al 2006, CRE 2005, McCaig & Bowers-Brown 2007, Hatt et al, EKOS,2007). As such, this paper can be seen as 'friendly fire' rather than a full frontal attack on methodological or ideological grounds. However, we will conclude that Aimhigher fails to fulfil its potential to be a force for social justice, in part because of a fundamental weakness in the concept of Aimhigher, and in part because of structural weaknesses in the operation of Aimhigher partnerships.
    • Constituting neoliberal subjects? Aspiration as technology of government in UK policy discourse

      Spohrer, Konstanze; Stahl, Garth; Bowers-Brown, Tamsin; Sheffield Hallam University (Routledge, 2017-06-05)
      Since the 2000s, successive governments in the United Kingdom and elsewhere have embraced the idea of raising aspiration among young people as a solution to persisting educational and socio-economic inequalities. Previous analyses have argued that these policies tend to individualise structural disadvantage and promote a deficit view of working-class youth. This paper adopts a novel approach to analysing aspiration discourses combining Michel Foucault's four dimensions of ethics and Mitchell Dean's notion of formation of identities. Applying Foucault's and Dean's work in this way provides a new lens that enables an examination of how policy encourages particular forms of subjectivation, and, therefore, seeks to govern individuals. The findings presented in the paper complicate previous research by showing that raising aspiration strategies portray disadvantaged youth both in terms of deficit and potential, resulting in a requirement for inner transformation and mobility through attitudinal change. The paper concludes with a discussion of the implications for the identity formation of young people and for conceptualising contemporary forms of governmentality.
    • Does Aimhigher work? evidence from the national evaluation

      McCaig Colin; Stevens, Anna; Bowers-Brown, Tamsin; Sheffield Hallam University (Higher Education Research Network, 2006)
      During 2005 the Centre for Research and Evaluation in collaboration with the Widening Participation Policy Unit at Sheffield Hallam University conducted three surveys on behalf of HEFCE to evaluate the impact of Aimhigher . Surveys were sent to all higher education institutions and a sample of further education colleges and work based-learning providers. All three surveys contained a set of core questions for the purpose of comparative analysis. The surveys focused on which activities are delivered through the Aimhigher partnerships, how the activities are perceived to impact on the provider and the apparent effect they have on the progression of target groups to higher education.