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Bulgarian Comparative Education Society, Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the Bulgarian Comparative Education Society (10th, Kyustendil, Bulgaria, Jun 12-15, 2012)

This paper presents the findings of a study on software development students from economically disadvantaged backgrounds that have dropped out of universities which have a strong research emphasis. In the UK, these universities are generally part of the Russell Group of Universities. The participants were all male, mainly black, working class and had studied software development for two years post-sixteen at an inner city further education college in London. This study is the result of interviews, discussions and feedback from students who have a very different experience of the higher education system than students from middle class backgrounds. As Macrae and Maguire (2002) have argued, a system of support is required for these under-represented groups, in order that they may successfully access and complete higher education studies. Economically disadvantaged students' transition to research led universities is especially difficult, as in these environments there is a habitus of middle class students for whom the social norms are very different as many have had very different life experiences. The dramatic increase in University fees from £3,000 to £9,000 per year has made many economically disadvantaged students worry about applying to university. It is also the case that students from the lower social classes are more debt averse than those from higher social classes (Callendar & Jackson, 2005). While many universities have made considerable steps to assisting transition, the findings are that these working class students who came to university from a vocational course and have very limited experience of exams, believe that they would be helped by having an introductory course at the start of the academic year to give additional support. A mentor from the same social, economic and ethnic background to support them from the start of their course would also be of great benefit. It is noted that additional financial help in the form of more non repayable bursaries and available part time work at the university would also be beneficial. [For complete volume, see ED567040.]

Descriptors: Foreign Countries, Economically Disadvantaged, College Students, Research Universities, Males, Blacks, Computer Software, Computer Science Education, Student Adjustment, Transitional Programs, At Risk Students, Dropouts, Student Attitudes, Qualitative Research, Educational Environment, Cultural Differences, Minority Group Students, Semi Structured Interviews

Bulgarian Comparative Education Society. Blvd Shipchenski prohod 69 A, 1574 Sofia, Bulgaria. e-mail: info[at]; Web site:

Autor: English, Hilary


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