Vocational and Mature Students Success in Higher Education Foundation Programmes

Anna Black*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)
9 Downloads (Pure)


Higher education in the UK is pressured to widen participation due to the social justice issues of mobility and movement through the class divide. However, those from lower classes and mature students elect for qualifications that do not classically allow entry into university, for example, the Business and Technology Education Council (BTEC) and Access to Higher Education (AHE) diplomas. A solution to this is a university bridging programme. Such a programme was analysed as to whether it prepares different cohorts of students effectively for undergraduate programmes, that is, those who have just missed the entry qualification but are coming from Advanced level qualifications, the other coming from nontraditional entry routes. Data from one academic year were anonymised and analysed. Results indicated that students coming from courses designed to widen participation scored significantly lower on the programme than those coming from Advanced level awards of any subject. This indicates that vocational and returning-to-education qualifications fail to prepare students for academia due to being focussed on the outcome, rather than the objective, of learning. The study also questioned entry tariff point equivalency. Those with higher points and nontraditional qualifications performed worse, suggesting that entry points cannot be used prognostically. Tariff points are a system to translate traditional grading systems into a numerical form which then allows for easy comparison between students. Varying qualifications have differing grading systems, and tariff points are used to enable the conversion of these grading systems to a universal one.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)105-121
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of Continuing Higher Education
Issue number2
Early online date6 Jul 2021
Publication statusPublished - 4 May 2022


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