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Access to higher education in Wales: a case study on policy implementation

McKenzie, Scott 2022. Access to higher education in Wales: a case study on policy implementation. EdD Thesis, Cardiff University.
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This thesis is a case study of widening access (WA) policy implementation in Wales, specifically focusing on policy interventions, policy tools, and practitioner enactment. A mixed-methods approach is adopted, involving semi-structured interviews and quantitative administrative datasets, to address the research aim: to explore WA policy implementation in Wales and provide a framework that can be used to make recommendations for improving policy and practice. An in-depth analysis of one WA intervention, employing Geographic Information System (GIS) techniques, illustrates that the efficacy of the area-based policy tool varies substantially by region. While some ineffectiveness can be put down to the limitations of the intervention design or the design of the tool, there are also issues with the use of the tool (the practitioner enactment of the policy). Evidence from the interview data suggests there is an over-reliance on top-down approaches and area-based tools in WA. The study develops a conceptual framework for WA Policy Implementation, informed by the work of Matland (1995), which is used to analyse and interpret the empirical data. The WA Policy Implementation Framework identifies four ideal types: Administrative, Political, Experimental, and Symbolic. The data analysis indicates that policy outcomes can be improved by using each of the four components of the typology as part of a ‘design process’ for implementation. Strengthening ‘bottom-up’ approaches will ensure that ‘street-level’ knowledge develops value and may help to mitigate some of the risks of top-down approaches. However, a number of risks are also highlighted e.g. the risk to fairness and transparency if practitioners are given total freedom. The research concludes with a series of recommendations for WA policy implementation. The WA Policy Implementation Framework may provide a way of managing the risks associated with each typology while capitalising on the benefits. This, combined with appropriate evaluation, is more likely to lead to WA policy implementation success.

Item Type: Thesis (EdD)
Date Type: Completion
Status: Unpublished
Schools: Social Sciences (Includes Criminology and Education)
Subjects: H Social Sciences > H Social Sciences (General)
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 16 May 2022
Last Modified: 05 Oct 2023 01:08

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