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The High-Potential Learners Project: increasing the participation in Russell Group universities of high-potential learners from low-performing institutions

Research output: Book/ReportOther report

Original languageEnglish
Publisher or commissioning bodyUniversity of Bristol
DatePublished - 4 Jul 2016


The aim of the research is to provide new evidence on the key influences on the decision-making of disadvantaged learners with high potential from different types of low-performing institutions. Using a mixture of quantitative and qualitative methods, this research will investigate which home, school, and personal characteristics of KS5 students are the key influences on decision-making potentially leading to HE and RG university participation. The focus will be on evaluating the relative importance of individual factors such as: the
nature of career aspirations; financing considerations; knowledge of opportunities and the “system”; self confidence; and perceptions of school and teacher support; and school- and teacher-level factors, such as: school ethos; setting and streaming; leadership focus on HE/RG attendance; parental engagement; and use of mentors and role models. Such school- and teacher- level factors may directly influence aspirations, or have an indirect effect on aspirations for HE/RG entrance by supporting high attainment, and we will explore this relationship further. Further factors may be added to this list of individual and school/teacher level influences as the research progresses. In the first strand a set of key influences will be identified from quantitative analysis of a large-scale nationally representative dataset of learners at Key Stages 4 and 5 who potentially started HE in 2010. A set of 48 case studies of young people across 6 institutions will then investigate further the influence of these factors on learners in the most recent cohorts as they go through the decision-making process, particularly in the context of the current economic recession and increased tuition fees, indicating that financial considerations are likely to play a considerable role. The findings will reveal which experiences and beliefs are
the greatest deterrents on the path to a RG university in the specific context of high-potential students in low performing institutions.

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  • Full-text PDF (accepted author manuscript)

    Rights statement: This is the author accepted manuscript (AAM). The final published version (version of record) is available online via University of Bristol at Please refer to any applicable terms of use of the publisher.

    Accepted author manuscript, 822 KB, PDF document


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