Abrahams, Jessica

Jessie Abrahams
Start date:
October 2013
Research Topic:
Exploring the relationship between the increased tuition fees in England and young peoples ‘Horizons for action’
Research pathway:
Research Supervisor:
Prof David James and Dr Sin Yi Cheung
Supervising school:
School of Social Sciences,
Primary funding source:
ESRC Studentship

Despite the prevailing evidence of the deepening class inequalities in the education system and the disproportionate distribution of university students in terms of class background, following the Browne report in 2010 the government raised the cap on tuition fees in England to £9,000 per year. Since most institutions have set their fees at the full amount, the cost of higher education (HE) has risen across the board, holding potentially grave consequences not just for the ‘widening participation agenda’ but for all students. It is out of this context that my research emerges. I am focussing on the extent to which the tuition fees may be putting young people off going to university and how this might differ by social class. Taking a Bourdieusian approach I am not focussing on the individual, their transitions or choices as I believe that young people’s ‘choices’ are situated within their ‘Horizons for action’ (their perceptions of the possible). Thus I am attempting to tap into the way in which the tuition fees may be impacting upon their ‘Horizons for action’. My research questions are:

1. To what extent do young people’s knowledge and perceptions of the increased tuition fees vary by social class background?

2. How do their perceptions of this debt fit in with their views of various other forms of debt?

3. In what ways are different schools providing information about the tuition fee system?

4. How might information about- and perceptions of- the increased tuition fees, finances and debt feed into young people’s ‘horizons for action’?

Selected recent publications

Abrahams, J. and Ingram N. (2013) ‘The Chameleon Habitus: Exploring local students’ negotiations multiple fields’ Sociological Review Online. 18(4)21 can be accessed at: http://www.socresonline.org.uk/18/4/21.html

Mellor, J., Ingram, N., Abrahams, J. and Beedell, P. (2013) ‘Class matters in the interview setting? Positionality, situatedness and class’, British Educational Research Journal. early online view, 21st February 2013. can be accessed at: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/berj.3035/abstract