Progression routes and attainment in occupational therapy education: the impact of background characteristics

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Introduction: United Kingdom government agendas promoting widening participation in higher education and diversification of the health and social care workforce have contributed to changing student profiles in pre-registration occupational therapy education. Sixty-seven percent of the 2005 intake was mature, and students increasingly enter with a range of 'non-traditional' academic backgrounds. A small body of evidence suggests that final degree marks are indistinguishable for occupational therapy students holding traditional and non-traditional entry qualifications, but none of these studies considered students unable to complete or the potential influence of socioeconomic background or gender.

Method: The progression routes and academic achievements of 239 consenting occupational therapy students from a single programme were analysed using inferential statistics and binary logistic regressions to explore the influence of entry qualifications, age at entry, gender, and socioeconomic background.

Findings: None of these characteristics had a statistically significant impact on graduates' final degree marks. The regressions, however, highlighted male gender and less privileged socioeconomic backgrounds as significant predictors of poorer outcomes regarding passing at Level 4, 5, and 6, and achievement of a 'good' (upper second or first class) honours degree.

Conclusion: The findings raise important questions about how a profession that promotes social justice supports diversity amongst its own ranks.


Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: December 1, 2013

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 2013 Impact Factor for The British Journal of Occupational Therapy is 0.897.

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