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Does access work? The relative performance of access students at a Scottish university

Osborne, M., Leopold, J., and Ferrie, A. (1997) Does access work? The relative performance of access students at a Scottish university. Higher Education, 33 (2). pp. 155-176. ISSN 0018-1560 (doi:10.1023/A:1002927816754)

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Publisher's URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1023/A:1002927816754

Abstract

Since the mid-1980s there have been very considerable changes inparticipation rates of all age cohorts in higher education courses within higher education institutions and further education colleges in Scotland. In particular there have been disproportionate increases in the number of entrants aged 21 and over to full time undergraduate and sub-degree courses.

The increasing heterogeneity of the undergraduate population raises questions of performance of the different populations of students. Whilst some research has previously been carried out on the performance of mature,'non-standard' and 'non-traditional' students, existing data is constrained by the restricted data sets of national admissions systems, and the limitations of institutional record-keeping. In particular, little information exists on students whose entry route is the Access Course despite its designation as the 'third' route into higher education (DES 1987) and its increasing popularity as a mode of entry from the late 1980s to the present day.

In this study the performance of students admitted to the University of Stirling with a variety of traditional and non-traditional qualifications is compared. Using detailed student records, fine distinctions by type of Access programme or other mature entry qualifications and by points scores in GCE'A' levels and SCE 'Highers' are compared. We show that performance of former Access students bears a relationship to the extent of control that the university exerts on the particular type of Access programme. We confirm that non-Access students who didn't enter the university direct from school, but who came in with a variety of qualifications perform at least as well as 'standard' entrants. Our studies of entrants with 'standard' qualifications confirms previous research that points scores are important indications of success or failure. Finally study of a discrete sub-set of former Access students studying Mathematics and Science courses at the university shows that their performance is slightly poorer than all Access students.

Item Type:Article
Status:Published
Refereed:Yes
Glasgow Author(s):Osborne, Prof Michael
Authors: Osborne, M., Leopold, J., and Ferrie, A.
Subjects:L Education > LB Theory and practice of education > LB2300 Higher Education
College/School:College of Social Sciences > School of Education > Social Justice Place and Lifelong Education
Journal Name:Higher Education
ISSN:0018-1560
ISSN (Online):1573-174X

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