AbstractsEducation Research & Administration

The apparent underrepresentation of ‘white working class’ men in British Universities: perspectives from a Kirklees case-study.

by Robert Daniel Ellis

Institution: University of Huddersfield
Year: 2015
Keywords: L Education (General); LB2300 Higher Education
Record ID: 1397225
Full text PDF: http://eprints.hud.ac.uk/24703/


This research investigates the apparent under-representation of ‘white working class’ (WWC) men in British Universities through a Kirklees case study. The research explores the relevance of the use of the concept ‘WWC’ in relation to educational experience, the perceived constraints identified amongst the worst off within this category and the effect this may have on university progression. Particularly amongst those boys on free school meals (FSM), constraints identified were the idea of a feminised education, aspirations and awareness. The literature review explores the background behind the under-representation amongst those categorised as ‘WWC’, including exploring the factual background and policy landscape. It also explores the breadth of constraints faced in university progression, predominantly amongst those on FSMs. It concludes with the firm position that the ‘WWC’ conception is inappropriate and there is too much focus by politicians, the media and charities on the ethnic dimension of under-representation amongst those categorised as ‘WWC’. Stating also that constraints do exist amongst part of the ‘WWC’, this is at the lower end of the social class scale however. This research centres Kirklees as a case study, in which 11 key informants were interviewed in order to identify key knowledge in regard to the perceived ‘WWC’ under-representation within British Universities. Through thematic coding key themes appeared in the data, highlighting the shared perception amongst the key informants in regard to the constraints witnessed by those classed as ‘WWC’, specifically witnessed by those on FSMs. The research concludes stating that the wide remit of what it means to be ‘WWC’ renders the concept unsuitable in understanding educational experience. Whilst there are constraints in accessing university within the ‘WWC’ category, this is overwhelmingly amongst those in receipt of FSMs.