Perspectives on Widening University Access: Critical Voices of Newly Qualified Therapists

Author: Ryan, Susan

Source: The British Journal of Occupational Therapy, Volume 64, Number 11, 1 November 2001 , pp. 534-540(7)

Publisher: College of Occupational Therapists

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Widening university access became a priority in the 1990s. Arguments in favour of this proposition have included: increasing the percentage of the population in the higher education sector; extending university opportunities to those not normally deemed eligible; and providing avenues for those wishing to change careers. Many falling into these categories were mature-aged people from varied backgrounds. Few studies have addressed the actual experiences of those mature-aged students as they have entered the higher education sector for the first time in access courses and then, subsequently, their eventual qualifying route.

This qualitative study listened to the voices of these newly qualified therapists. In telling their educational and practice stories in a multiple layer methodology, their varied experiences provided critical incidents. These gave insights into the way that they felt, the way that they perceived they were treated, some actual experiences with staff and colleagues and, finally, the way that they felt on successfully completing their chosen programme. Their reflections were both analysed and interpreted by the method of analysis of narratives (Polkinghorne 1995). The powerful stories and incidents that arose convey lessons for all those working in the higher education sector, whether they be vocational counsellors, access staff or lecturers in professional qualifying programmes.

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: November 1, 2001

More about this publication?
  • The British Journal of Occupational Therapy (BJOT) is the official journal of the College of Occupational Therapists. Its purpose is to publish articles relevant to theory, practice, research, education and management in occupational therapy internationally.

    BJOT publishes research articles, critical reviews, practice analyses, opinion pieces, editorials, letters to the editor, book reviews and an annual index. Please refer to the author's guide at

    Submissions can be made at

    The 2012 Impact Factor for The British Journal of Occupational Therapy is 1.096.

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