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False uniqueness: the self-perception of new entrants to higher education in the UK and its implications for access: a pilot study

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A central tenet of contemporary education policy relates to the desire to extend Higher Education provision to less advantaged groups (widening participation). Our paper contends that a key behavioural obstacle to widening participation lies in the erroneous belief that persists among potential entrants from disadvantaged backgrounds as to their capabilities of succeeding within the HE environment a perception that serves to deflates application/recruitment rates from such groupings. We test this false uniqueness thesis using a sample of 127 new UK undergraduates, finding that students drawn from lower social class backgrounds consistently under-estimated their abilities vis-a-vis the overall cohort.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3-22
Number of pages20
JournalHigher Education Quarterly
Volume61
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2007

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