Graduate gap years: Narratives of postponement in graduate employment transitions in England.
AffiliationUniversity of Derby
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AbstractFor UK higher education students, the ‘gap year’ or ‘year out’ is historically conceptualised as an amassing of wider life experience, often overseas, during a twelve-month period between the completion of A-level studies and the first year of a university degree. However, in a recent comparative study, which saw interviews conducted in both 2014 and 2015 with final year undergraduate students (n74) from different social backgrounds, across two English universities (one Russell Group university and one Post-1992 university), the term ‘gap year’ was being re-appropriated to capture something different. The term was being used to describe a period following graduation in which graduands planned to take low-paid work or ‘ordinary’ jobs, take stock of their financial situation, and attempt to save money and/or repay urgent debt. A high proportion of students in the 2015 stage of the study (16/37) spoke of taking a graduate gap year, compared with 9/37 in 2014. It may be that the increasing costs of debt-based forms of higher education payment coinciding with growing precarious employment has contributed to this situation. By borrowing the term gap year to describe a new and different phenomenon, some of the student interviewees may be legitimising the predicament in which they find themselves. This chapter explores the experiences of students who spoke of taking a graduate gap year. It examines the different roles of a graduate gap year and discusses wider implications for unequal graduate outcomes.
CitationVigurs, K. et al (2018) 'Graduate gap years: Narratives of postponement in graduate employment transitions in England.', in Burke, C. and Christie, F. (eds.) 'Graduate Careers in Context Research, Policy and Practice', Abingdon: Routledge.
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