Understanding the Attitudes and Opinions of the Fair Access Target Group.

Authors: Heaslip, V., Alexander, P., Hewitt-Taylor, J. and Ellis-Hill, C.

Publisher: Bournemouth University

Place of Publication: Bournemouth


This participatory action research explored first year Fair Access Students (FAS) (enrolled on Bournemouth University (BU) courses) perceptions of the factors which led them to consider accessing Higher Education (HE) in the first instance and secondly, the reasons why Bournemouth University was an attractive choice for them. It consisted of a mixed method approach of a) two focus groups, of thirteen FAS students in total providing data which was analysed thematically and b) the themes of which were explored with a greater number of students using a likert type questionnaire which was distributed to all first year undergraduate students at Bournemouth University via survey monkey. The key issues from this research appear to be that: • Fair access students may be slightly older than non-fair access students, but are still predominantly in their early 20s. • Fair access students are unlikely to have vastly different entry qualifications from their non-fair access counterparts.

  • Fair access students seem motivated in very similar ways to non-fair access students.
  • The course, opportunity for placement, employment statistics and academic reputation of BU were more important to fair access students than BUs university ranking.
  • Attendance at open days is lower for fair access students, and as a result, they are more likely to make decisions on courses based upon the information from a university website.
  • For Fair access students who attended open days, the knowledge, friendliness and approachability of staff were important influences in choosing their university. • Within the focus groups, geographical location was an important factor in that students preferred to be in their home town, especially if they had family commitments or by the beach for younger students. However, this was deemed less important by the students who undertook the questionnaire.

Source: Manual

Preferred by: Jaqui Hewitt-Taylor and Caroline Ellis-Hill