Campus closures and the devaluing of emplaced Higher Education: widening participation in neoliberal times

Leaney, Sarah and Mwale, Shadreck ORCID: (2021) Campus closures and the devaluing of emplaced Higher Education: widening participation in neoliberal times. Higher Education, 82 (5). pp. 977-992. ISSN 0018-1560

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Widening participation (WP) in Higher Education (HE) is often positioned as key to resolving social inequality; it underpins arguments that increasing levels of education lead to reduced levels of poverty. Located within the tension of duty and need, WP is positioned as both the responsibility of the University and a financial imperative. This paper considers the student experience of this tension, specifically the contradictions between discourses of equality and diversity and neoliberal conceptualisations of HE as market. Drawing upon qualitative research conducted during the closure of a WP satellite campus, the paper explores the consequences of the withdrawal of HE provision for ‘local’ students. Utilising focus group methodologies to develop an approach for ‘thinking with’ seven WP students, the paper explores the material, social and affective contexts within which students experience university in their ‘hometown’. Foregrounding participants’ critical understanding of their ‘place’ within a marketised HE sector, we consider the formation of student identity as a site of struggles for value. We argue, the closure of satellite campuses must be understood within the context of deepening social-spatial inequalities. Developing a critique of individualised constructions of ‘social mobility’, we outline an alternative imaginary of HE as an intergenerational community resource.

Item Type: Article
Identifier: 10.1007/s10734-021-00696-6
Keywords: Widening participation, Neoliberalism, Emplaced higher education, Social class
Subjects: Education > Higher education
Social sciences > Politics
Social sciences > Economics and economic history
Related URLs:
Depositing User: Shadreck Mwale
Date Deposited: 18 Nov 2021 13:25
Last Modified: 18 Nov 2021 13:26

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