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Engagement with Higher Education in Rural and Remote Scotland and Wales Lindsay Hewitt, Meg Hopkins Ronald MacIntyre, Isobel Mitchell, Julie Robson, John Rose-Adams
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Engagement with Higher Education in Rural and Remote Scotland and Wales Lindsay Hewitt, Meg Hopkins Ronald MacIntyre, Isobel Mitchell, Julie Robson, John Rose-Adams

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This session will report on joint Open University in Scotland and Centre for Inclusion and Curriculum research undertaken in Scotland and Wales to extend the understanding of the remote and rural ...

This session will report on joint Open University in Scotland and Centre for Inclusion and Curriculum research undertaken in Scotland and Wales to extend the understanding of the remote and rural learner experience.

Delegates will be invited to engage with emerging findings from a recent phase of the project which sought to learn from the social networks identified by rural and remote learners.

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  • A further aim of this project was to develop the research and scholarship skills of non-research OU staff and contribute to the OU’s scholarly output of Widening Participation.
  • The present study borrows from and adapts Fuller’s model to consider the experience of individual students who are already engaging with HE in one way or another or across time. This allows us to consider longitudinal experience, circuitous routes and also engagement with institutions other than the OU. This study links to the OU current widening Participation Strategy, institutional objectives to increase and extend scholarship, contributes to the knowledge being generated in pursuit of Focus Area
  • Similar Patterns [Sandy left school because] “I felt a bit lost, and once she had left I just got ill so I left, and that was the end of that really” [Her mother was going to to go University but] “ I left at the end of 5th year as my best friend, who was incredibly brainy left, … [Sandy] almost followed suit … virtually history repeating itself ...” They had a small area of land near the sea and she enjoyed going to the small local school. Going to secondary school involved an 1 ½ bus journey, while she had the option of the hostel, she chose to commute every day. She was happy at school at first but over time became disillusioned. She found the commute difficult. She did well at school and was academically very able. “ I was a straight One's student, and I was very into my sport and stuff like that so educational wise I was on the right path” However, her closest friend left and went into private education around the time when she should have been sitting Highers. She became ill and had to take time of school. “ I felt a bit lost, and once she had left I just got ill so I left, and that was the end of that really” She felt that her family were very supportive, when I spoke to her mother and father it was clear that they too had complex educational stories. Her mother Leslie had attended a prestigious private school in Aberdeen, was academically able, and like her daughter the expectation was that she would go to University.
  • Her father did not get to make the the choices he wanted. Brought up in the North of England, he passed the 11+ and got a scholarship to a Grammar School. He did well at school and the expectation was that he would go to University - he was keen on Chemical Engineering. However, his parents did not support his decision, and he ended up joining the Air Force and training in Radio Engineering. He continued to work in aviation after coming out of the RAF and attended night school taking an HNCNorth Sea oil drew him up to Aberdeen, where he ended up working as a consultant before the shift to the West Coast. Her brother has a similar story, unlike Sandy though he did not feel like he fitted in well at School after they moved to the West Coast, certainly not at first. He found it difficult to adjust, and found himself identifying more with the part-time job he had in a local tourism business. Having developed an interest in tourism James decided to study for a tourism related degree. However, he very quickly realised that he did not want to study tourism and with the support of his family he moved back to the West Coast and his old job. He rose quickly within the organisation and enjoyed it very much. He decided to go back to University in Aberdeen, a decision that seems to have tipped his family into finally deciding to go back to Aberdeenshire. He now works for a large oil company, like his mother and father he has taken part in a lot of work-based learning and through this taken on quite a specialised role within the industry. The question of getting back into study might seem slightly irrelevant in a network that seemed to value education and whose members seem to have been engaged in some kind of education throughout their lives. Sandy took her first OU course while living on the West Coast before attending Aberdeen University. It was a maths course, and and her father took the same course at the same time. Both enjoyed and benefited from the experience of studying together, Tim is considering further OU study, as is his wife. Sandy and James older brother also went back into education later in life, he now works abroad. But for Sandy DL is important as she cannot access education any other way.
  • Notes; Network local and distance, location determining type of support Learning journey related to traumatic events and expectations Electronic methods of student tuition/support gain mixed responses Gender and distance have important roles in networks
  • Notes; Network local and distance, location determining type of support Learning journey related to traumatic events and expectations Electronic methods of student tuition/support gain mixed responses Gender and distance have important roles in networks
  • Notes; Network local and distance, location determining type of support Learning journey related to traumatic events and expectations Electronic methods of student tuition/support gain mixed responses Gender and distance have important roles in networks

Engagement with Higher Education in Rural and Remote Scotland and Wales Lindsay Hewitt, Meg Hopkins Ronald MacIntyre, Isobel Mitchell, Julie Robson, John Rose-Adams Presentation Transcript

  • 1. Engagement with Higher Education in Rural and Remote Scotland and Wales
    • The Open University in Scotland
    • The Open University in Wales
    • The Centre for Inclusion and Curriculum
    Wide Open (Symposium) Centre of Inclusion and Curriculum 1 st November 2011
  • 2. Phase 1 - Findings
    • Literature and Policy
    • Target driven approach has led to a widening participation practice that is fragmented, geographically uneven and project led
    • Large amount of data from cross different sectors but not gathered in any meaningful way
    • Stakeholder interviews
    • Further evidence of the “ fragmented, geographically uneven, and project led ” approach.
    • Few examples of coherent progression pathways or of sustainable models
    • Local roots and knowledge and on the integration of the activity into local communities and networks
  • 3. Engagement with Higher Education in Rural and Remote Scotland and Wales
    • Phase 1
    • Wales and Scotland
    • Literature and policy review
    • Stakeholder interviews
    • Open University resources / stats
    • Conclusions & recommendations
    • Further research....
    • Phase 2
    • Scotland focus
    • Rural and remote locations
    • Influence of networks
    • Develop and test methodology
    • Develop research and scholarship skills of non-research OU staff
    17 OU staff, including 10 Associate Lecturer researchers
  • 4. Phase 1 - Findings
    • OU resources
    • Curriculum - Flexibility, Relevance and Language
    • Delivery - Appropriate technologies, local and face-to-face support, social learning, facilities, partnerships
    • Overarching themes
        • Identities and cultures
        • Equality of offer
        • Understanding rural social exclusion(s)
        • Institutional commitment.
  • 5. Phase 1 - Conclusions
    • More data on adult learners in rural and remote areas required
    • Complex inter-relationships between work and personal motivation, in and out-migration = qualitative study
    • More work on subjective and situational barriers
    • Critique of status quo - practice in other sectors and  options for policy development
    • The importance of collectives, voluntary and personal networks
  • 6. Phase 2 - Scottish pilot
    • Aims and Objectives
    • to find out more about the lived experience of rural and remote learners
    • to develop and refine a methodology that may be applied to all areas of the UK
    • to explore the impact of self-identified social networks on raising awareness about HE opportunities, motivation, on the creation and development of individual ‘learner identities’, and on progress towards study goals
    • to explore how social networks work to improve and disrupt successful learning
    • to consider how the outcomes of the study might inform OU WP Strategy, strategies for learner support (including peer support) and outreach and community partnership activity in rural areas .
  • 7. Phase 2 - What we Know Scottish Government 8-Fold Urban Rural Classification (2010)
    • OU in Scotland
    • Over 16,000 OU students in Scotland, inhabiting every postcode area; the highest participation rate is in Shetland
    • 22% geographically remote/rural
    • Our rural and remote students are older than average OU student
    • more likely to be female
    • Starting point
    • Scottish Government Urban-Rural Index
    • Experience of crucial role of local project worker in OU Widening Participation activity and partnership engagement
    • Fuller’s (2008) model for analysing social networks.
  • 8.
    • Entry Point
    • Name
    • Age:
    • Gender:
    • Ethnicity:
    • Life stage:
    • Geographical location:
    • Occupation:
    • Highest qualification:
    • Has experience of HE?
    Fuller (2008)
    • Network link
    • Name
    • Age:
    • Ethnicity:
    • Life stage:
    • Geographical location:
    • Occupation:
    • Highest qualification:
    • Has experience of HE?
    • Network link
    • Name:
    • Age:
    • Gender:
    • Ethnicity:
    • Life stage:
    • Geographical location:
    • Occupation:
    • Highest qualification:
    • Has experience of HE?
    • Network link
    • Name:
    • Age:
    • Gender:
    • Ethnicity:
    • Life stage: lives with partner and 2 children
    • Geographical location: Isolated small town
    • Occupation:
    • Highest qualification:
    • Has experience of HE?
    • Network link
    • Name:
    • Age:
    • Gender:
    • Ethnicity:
    • Life stage:
    • Geographical location:
    • Occupation:
    • Highest qualification:
    • Has experience of HE?
    • Network link
    • Name
    • Age:
    • Gender
    • Ethnicity:
    • Life stage:
    • Geographical location:
    • Occupation:
    • Highest qualification:
    • Has experience of HE?
  • 9. Phase 2: What we did
    • Data-set: OU students in seven rural/remote locations across Scotland
    • Entry point students: WP characteristics prioritised (Low Previous Educational Qualifications, Fee waiver or Individual Learning Account (ILA), MD20 (Scottish Index of Multiple Deprivation)
    • Semi-structured interviews - by phone or face to face
    • Entry point students and self-identified network links .
    Thurso Kyle of Lochalsh Kinross Selkirk Sanquhar Newton Stewart Bressay
  • 10. Kyle of Lochalsh
    • Skye and Lochalsh
    • Local population 12,000
    • Edinburgh 4/5hours
    • Inverness 2 hours
  • 11. Sandy’s network
    • Husband
    • Murdo
    • Mid 30s
    • Vocational (Mechanic)
    • Brother
    • James
    • Mid 30s
    • HE Technical
    • Father
    • Tim
    • Over 60s
    • HN Technical
    • Sandy
    • Early 30s
    • Level 1 /
    • short courses
    • Mother
    • Leslie
    • Over 60
    • HN Business
    Entry Point
  • 12. Making your own choices & complex pathways
    • [Sandy] “I really really really wanted to go to University and when I went, you know, I thought, it is not really what I want to do, I just wanted to know I could get that far...”
    • [Brother “dropped out” of University, but went back later] ~ “ I was loving my job, and there was talk of me actually buying into the business …. I was doing a lot of hours … in the winter you are not working so much … it got to the point … I was frustrated in what I was doing [it] wasn't going anywhere …. [if the owners sold the business] no qualifications and no particular place to go”
    • [Father own choices were constrained] “ What I wanted for them was to have the qualifications that would enable them to enter Uni, whether they went to University … I wanted them to make their own decision ….”
  • 13.
    • Shetland is an archipelago 200 miles north east of Aberdeen, closer to Norway than Scotland
    • Population around 22,000
    • 8.5% of Shetlanders are ‘income deprived’ with 15% of households in relative poverty (McKendrick 2011)
    • OU students inhabit every postcode area in Scotland: the highest participation rate is in Shetland.
    Shetland Isles
  • 14. Anne’s network
    • Daughter
    • Hannah
    • Mid 20s
    • Shetlander
    • No current occupation
    • Degree in Geography (First Class)
    • Husband
    • John
    • Mid 50s
    • Married (2 children)
    • Marine Engineer
    • Degree in Agriculture
    • Anne
    • Mid 50s
    • Scottish
    • Married with 2 children
    • Occupational Therapist
    • Degree in Agriculture
    Entry Point
  • 15. Jonny’s network
    • Wife
    • Katrina
    • Late 30s
    • Shetlander
    • Married with young son
    • Senior Accountant
    • Degree in Social Sciences
    • PG qualification accountancy
    • Jonny
    • Late 30s
    • Shetlander
    • Married with young son
    • Planning Officer
    • Degree in Social Sciences
    Entry Point
  • 16. Selkirk
    • The ancient Royal Burgh of Selkirk lies on the Ettrick water, in the Scottish Borders
    • Population around 5,800
    • Formerly the centre of woollen textile industry in Roxburghshire, little industry remains
    • Scattered population in the Ettrick and Yarrow valleys.
  • 17. Lucy’s network
    • Sister
    • Helen
    • Lives in Gloucester
    • Also an OU Student
    • Husband
    • Mike
    • Left school at 16
    • Not studying
    • Friend
    • Ruth
    • Also an OU student
    • Lucy
    • Married with children
    • In-comer
    • Friend
    • Kathleen
    • Also an OU Student
    • (Not interviewed)
    Entry Point
    • Friend
    • Adam (local friend)
    • Completed HND at college
    • Father
    • James (deceased)
    • Had an OU degree
  • 18. Sanquhar
    • Sanquhar sits in the Nith valley in north east Dumfries and Galloway
    • Past prosperity owed to the wool trade, and later coal mining
    • Social and economic decline following closure of the mines
    • Drop in population from 3,000 to 2,100
    • Some recent economic recovery
  • 19.
    • Husband
    • Phil
    • Isolated, small town in SW Scotland
    • Graduate
    • Friend
    • Janet
    • Village in Rutland, England
    • OU graduate
    • Ruth
    • Age: 40
    • Isolated, small town in SW Scotland
    • OU graduate
    • (now post graduate student)
    Ruth’s network Entry Point
    • Friend
    • Carole
    • Village in SW Scotland
    • OU graduate
    • (now post graduate student)
  • 20. Ruth’s and Alana’s networks
  • 21. Phase 2: Next step
    • Analysis of location data and final report: recurring themes and context specific strands
    • Reflection on ‘means used’
    • Development of methodology to explore issues raised in key findings: cultural aspects
    • To develop research and scholarship skills of non-research OU staff
    • To contribute to the OU’s scholarly output in the subject of widening participation