Pierce, Adam

Start date:
October 2015
Research Topic:
The relationship between the Welsh language and Higher Education participation
Research pathway:
Research Supervisor:
Prof. Chris Taylor and Prof. Gareth Rees
Supervising school:
School of Social Sciences,
Primary funding source:
ESRC Studentship

The commitment to the expansion of Welsh-medium education has been a key policy agenda for the Welsh Government, highlighted most recently in their Welsh Medium Education Strategy (WAG 2010).

There is no doubt that Welsh Medium education has played a crucial role in the successful revitalization efforts of the Welsh language, particularly across the compulsory education sector (primary and secondary phases). Yet, the progression of WM education and provision availability has not been as successful, and remains very limited across the Higher Education sector.

The establishment of Y Coleg Cymraeg Cenedlaethol in 2011 has attempted to tackle this issue by its commitment to develop and increase WM opportunities to students across all universities in Wales, and thus seeks to increase the number of students who undertake their degree courses, partly or entirely through the medium of Welsh.

However, the lack of literature and research that focuses exclusively on the relationship between the Welsh language and HE and HE participation clearly justifies the need to further explore this under-researched and under-developed field. As of yet the demand for Welsh medium higher education has not been systematically investigated, and so this PhD will aim to address this deficit.

I am particularly interested in exploring the linguistic progression of Welsh-speaking students from the secondary phase to the HE sector ‚Äď and more crucially to identify and explore the key factors that might influence students‚Äô decisions to study their HE courses through the medium of Welsh.

The investigation will comprise of a mixed-method approach:

  • Quantitative secondary data analysis of large-scale datasets including the Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA) and the National Pupil Database (NPD).
  • Longitudinal qualitative research by following a sample of Welsh speaking sixth form students as they make their decisions regarding HE and Welsh Medium Higher Education.

Focus Groups/Interviews with Welsh-speaking university students undertaking their degree, either partly or entirely through the medium of Welsh, and those who are studying through the medium of English.