The Journey from Further Education to Higher Education: an investigation into the ‘lived experiences’ of learners as they transition into and through the first year of higher education

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The global trend towards the expansion of student participation in higher education study has resulted in unprecedented challenges to the sector as it seeks to respond to greater diversity in the student body and increased demand for academic support and flexibility in entry pathways. Unsurprisingly, this trend has been accompanied by a proliferation of research examining how universities and higher education are responding to the challenge of meeting the needs of a diverse population of students. This qualitative study, using a dual sector further education and higher education academic partner institution of a dispersed Scottish university as a case-study, investigates the ‘lived experiences’ of learners as they transition into and through the first year of higher education. The data analysis revealed three dominant enablers to student transitions: ‘higher education demystification’, ‘student-centred peer support’ and ‘pastoral care’. The study recognises that student transitions are entangled in circumstances of time and place, as well as the unique dynamics of individual agency and interaction with others. However, by linking the student experiences to wider arcs of understanding on educational transitions, this small-scale study aims to contribute to broader discussions on how to forge better progression pathways between further education and higher education.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages16
Volume 50
Specialist publicationScottish Educational Review
PublisherUniversity of Stirling Bibliographical Society
Publication statusPublished - 30 Dec 2018



  • Transitions
  • higher education
  • further education
  • conceptual models
  • identity formation

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