Boosting the boys 3

July 22, 2005

I must challenge the total misrepresentation of the work of myself and my colleagues in Yanina Sheeran's letter on dropouts (July 15). Our research, published by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation in the autumn, does not let universities off the hook for their responsibilities to working-class students. It also focuses on how socioeconomic conditions and cultural discourses affect both access and withdrawal. Our findings overthrow limited ideas about "success" and "failure" (and eschew fruitless searches for their causes) and will, we hope, reframe the debate about working-class participation in university. Widening participation is not simply a matter of personal or structural change, but of transforming our conceptions of what constitutes knowledge and learning.

Jocey Quinn

Exeter University

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