A university education has long been seen as the gateway to upward social mobility for individuals from lower socio-economic backgrounds, and as a way of reproducing social advantage for the better off. With the number of young people from the very highest socio-economic groups entering university in the UK having effectively been at saturation point for several decades, the expansion witnessed in participation rates over the last few decades has largely been achieved by a modest broadening of the base of the undergraduate population in terms of both social class and ethnic diversity.

However, a growing body of evidence exists in the continuation of unequal graduate outcomes. This can be seen in terms of employment trajectories in the UK. The issue of just who enjoys access to which university, and the experiences and outcomes of graduates from different institutions remain central to questions of social justice, notably higher education’s contribution to social mobility and to the reproduction of social inequality.

This collection of contemporary original writings explores these issues in a range of specific contexts, and through employing a range of theoretical and methodological approaches. The relationship between higher education and social mobility has probably never been under closer scrutiny. This volume will appeal to academics, policy makers, and commentators alike. Higher Education and Social Inequalities is an important contribution to the public and academic debate.



Setting the scene

part I|80 pages

Getting in: higher education access and participation

chapter 1|20 pages

Admissions, adaptations, and anxieties

Social class inside and outside the elite university

chapter 2|15 pages

Struggling for selfhood

Non-traditional mature students’ critical perspectives on access to higher education courses in England

chapter 4|27 pages

Patterns of participation in a period of change

Social trends in English higher education from 2000 to 2016

part II|70 pages

Getting on: classed experiences of higher education

chapter 5|17 pages

A tale of two universities

Class work in the field of higher education

chapter 6|17 pages

How to win at being a student

chapter 8|15 pages

The ‘Jack Wills brigade’

Brands, embodiment, and class identities in higher education

part III|39 pages

Getting out: social class and graduate destinations

chapter 10|23 pages

A glass half full?

Social class and access to postgraduate study

chapter 12|21 pages

Gendered and classed graduate transitions to work

How the unequal playing field is constructed, maintained, and experienced

chapter |12 pages


Social class, participation, and the marketised university