‘University opened up so many doors for me’: the personal and professional development of graduates from non-traditional backgrounds

Hazel Christie, Viviene E. Cree, Eve Mullins, Lyn Tett

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

1 Citation (Scopus)


There is a substantial body of quantitative evidence about the benefits of higher education. However there is little qualitative evidence about the extent to which these benefits accrue to graduates from non-traditional backgrounds. This paper contributes to this gap in knowledge by exploring the experiences of a group of 15 graduates 10 years after they had started at university. The cohort was unusual because they had all completed a college-level qualification before going on to study at an elite university. We draw attention to the impact of higher education on their positions in the labour market, as well as to their development of learning identities that supported them to make changes in their personal and professional lives. Although higher education brought real benefits to the cohort, including better employment prospects and the development of confidence in themselves, we show that they were clustered in various caring and public sector professions at the lower end of the graduate labour market.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1938-1948
Number of pages11
JournalStudies in Higher Education
Issue number11
Early online date8 Mar 2017
Publication statusPublished - 2018


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