Back in April 2010, this synthesis of research by Stevenson and Lang on social class and higher education was published on the Evidencenet webiste.
This is a useful resource for all those bound up with thinking about widening access and participation. It represents a mature view of the problems associated with social class distinctions, drawing from critical literaure, but takes a pragmatic view.
The author’s analysis of the research is important. Observations about the over-representation of research looking at working class students, to the detriment of other classes, means that the evidence on social class may be skewed or incomplete. furthermore, that research on working class students is predominately taking place in institutions in which such students are well-represented – i.e. post-1992 universities – and there is a strong focus on Access courses. Again, this risks obfuscation of the overall picture of social class(es) in higher education.
Well balanced conclusions are drawn from the literature, and the authors offer some useful recommendations at national and institutional level.