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Edited by Geraint Johnes and Jill Johnes
Robin A. Naylor and Jeremy Smith 1 Introduction The issue of what characteristics are associated with a student’s level of academic attainment at university is a very topical one. This is particularly true of the United Kingdom, which will provide the focus for much of our discussion in this chapter. The reasons for the current high level of interest are many and varied. First, for example, there is a concern with diﬀerences in educational attainment by gender. It is well known that, in both primary and secondary education, girls are performing signiﬁcantly, and often increasingly, better than boys in many countries. Perhaps surprisingly, there is growing evidence, as we summarize later in this chapter, that this is also true of degree-level tertiary education. Exploring the possible reasons for this is an important project. Second, as in many countries, UK government policies over the charging of fees to home-based university students have undergone radical changes over the last two decades, as has the system of funding and supporting students’ maintenance costs while at university. In the UK, policy over both fees and funding continues to be the source of discussion and debate. An important element in this debate concerns the extent to which a student’s capacity to study is compromised by the need to engage in labour market activity to support himself or herself ﬁnancially. Such a risk is likely to vary with the student’s social class background. Additionally there are sociological and sociopsychological reasons for expecting student performance...
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