Dissertation Abstracts

Planned and Happenstance Transitions of Students from Education to Work in England and Romania

Author: Reka Plugor, plugor.reka@gmail.com
Department: Sociology
University: University of Leicester, United Kingdom
Supervisor: Professor John Goodwin
Year of completion: 2015
Language of dissertation: English

Keywords: transitions , higher education , Romania , England
Areas of Research: Education , Work , Biography and Society

Abstract

The fact that students engage in more than just their studies while at university has been acknowledged in previous education research, but it has not been included in the theoretical debates on education-to-work-transitions. In this thesis I argue that the lack of debates between educational researchers and youth transitions researchers and the narrow focus of existing studies on certain educational aspects cannot do justice to the complex experiences and perceptions of young people today, who, I believe, experience multiple status positions while at university. In this thesis I try to address this gap by focusing on the process of student transitions from education to work from a comparative and biographical perspective. I conducted 42 topical life history interviews with final year students in England and Romania about their reasons for opting to study at university, the processes of deciding what and where to study, the impressions and attitudes towards their studies, the activities they were engaged in, and their future (career) plans just before graduation. I conducted this exercise with an explicit aim to answer my main research question: What are the characteristics of student pathways through HE? To answer this question I relied on the main concepts from youth transitions and education-to-work transitions research – structure and agency – but I included in the analysis considerations about significant others and happenstance events, as well as perspectives about time and space. Overall, from a theoretical perspective, my research responded to calls for more holistic perspectives on youth and education-to-work transitions, while from a methodological perspective, I offered a thick description of narrative research conducted from multi-lingual and multi-ethnic perspectives on the lived experiences of students in two country and institutional contexts.

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