The conventional view has been that progression to HE is a risky pathway for disadvantaged young people in England, both financially and socially. However, even as the costs of HE have increased and the returns have become more questionable, demand from disadvantaged young people has counterintuitively risen. The nature of the youth labour market has changed, with greater precarity even as more jobs have become ‘graduate’, while a modest diversification of HE has made it appear somewhat more inclusive. This talk will argue that disadvantaged students increasingly view HE as a form of insurance rather than investment, with the risks of early entry into the labour market rising faster.
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Neil Harrison is a senior researcher and deputy director of the Rees Centre at the Department of Education, University of Oxford
Neil’s primary area of research interest is around access to higher education, especially for groups of people who are disadvantaged or marginalised in society. This includes topics such as financial support, outreach programmes, alternative qualification routes and the factors underpinning student success. He has also researched around the engagement of students in internationalised universities and the concept of global citizenship, as well as having an interest in epistemology and ‘expertise’. Neil has recently led commissioned projects for the Office for Students (formerly the Office for Fair Access) and the National Network for the Education of Care Leavers.