Field J & Morgan-Klein N (2012) The Importance of Social Support Structures for Retention and Success. In: Hinton-Smith & T (eds.) Widening Participation in Higher Education: Casting the net wide?. Issues in Higher Education. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, pp. 178-192. http://www.palgrave.com/products/title.aspx?pid=508578
As a policy goal, widening participation is increasingly associated with retention and completion. For those who are concerned with equity or social mobility, it makes little sense to recruit new types of student if they do not then qualify for a graduate profession. There has been growing interest in retention and completion among researchers and policymakers, with much attention centring on the extent to which new students can be helped to integrate into the institution. Drawing on a study of undergraduates in the UK, this chapter explores the extent to which student support services and wider informal support networks feature in students' narratives of retention. Conceptually, we are interested here in the ways in which students feel themselves to be legitimate members of the ‘imagined community' of higher education, a concept that we have adapted from Anderson's treatment of nationalisms (Anderson, 1991).
Widening participation; higher education; non-traditional students