How Students and Academics Make a University Choice
When both students and academics are faced with the problem of choosing a university, it might seem like everybody dreams to work or study in elite institutions. However, according to the studies, it is not really so, let us review some issues in details in our written essay.
I used to speak with a number of academics from a middle-class background about their impressions of working in various educational institutions. All of them were employed in institutions that acquired university status 20-50 years ago. However, despite all of the interviewees were qualified to apply for academic positions in prestigious universities, more than 75% of them preferred to stay at their current job. They did not want to work at the Russel Group institutions. None of them said it was because of location or personal and domestic commitments. Instead, they said it was because they loved working with their colleagues and that they felt comfortable in their current workplace. There were also some academics who said that they had negative experiences of working at elite institutions before, which have discouraged them from working at similar places in the future.
The social mobility as one of the main reasons
It is worth interest that almost every person I spoke with throughout this research identified himself/herself as being from working-class heritage. Each of my interviewees was employed as a professor, reader, lecturer, or senior lecturer. Some were holding their positions for the first year, while others had over 25 years of experience. But all the academics have experienced social mobility. They have possessed doctoral levels, and they were employed in a middle-class profession.
The social mobility is the migration of an individual within or between social strata in a society. It intends a change in social status relative to one’s current social position. Thus, a person who was the first in the family to get an academic degree, and was later employed in a middle-class profession, has socially mobilized in terms of the education and employment prospects.
Many of those who I interviewed have published plenty of academic works, over many years. Bringing research income into one’s home institution is always a complicated task that also reflects one’s competence and experience in a particular field. And yet instead of working at an elite university — and therefore socially mobilize further — these people preferred to stay at their current places of work.
Talking about students
After talking to many academics, I started to wonder what the issue is with students. Sure, there is nothing wrong with staying in your comfort zone. For some academics, their university, fellow workers, and students are beneficiaries of their success. And this phenomenon does not concern academics from a working-class heritage only. There are many other scholars who also would like to stay at their current place of work. Besides, this same phenomenon relates to students, as well. A significant number of students also prefer attending universities where they feel more comfortable, instead of those prestigious ones that are at the top of the ratings.
Certainly, there can be numerous reasons why students make such choices. Among them, geographical location and the proximity to their loved ones. Also, according to the recent report, one of the crucial points that affect the student’s final decision is his/her social class. This is not related to academic ability and previous achievement. It was mentioned that the amount of students from poorer backgrounds attending prestigious universities has reduced in comparison to previous years. This means the poorest high school graduates are already less likely to study at a university than their peers.
Prestigious institutions should not more and more become places for middle-class students. Many educational institutions realize it and are already changing their admissions policies to increase the possibility of accommodating more students from various backgrounds.
However, other universities should not be considered the poorest cousins in terms of what they can suggest to future students. Because according to numerous studies, the best academics are not necessarily found at elite educational institutions.
So when one is faced with choosing the university, it is better to focus on communicating with institutional staff lists and learning biographies instead of studying the admissions trends solely.