Prepared for the ‘good life’? Higher Education ‘Applied Sciences’ students in a vocational college.

Cassar, Ralph (2020) Prepared for the ‘good life’? Higher Education ‘Applied Sciences’ students in a vocational college. Ed.D thesis, University of Glasgow.

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Policies on education, particularly those about post-compulsory education, namely Further Education and Higher Education, emphasise education as preparation for work, or rather for the preparation of workers necessary for the labour market and for economic growth. This study delves into what students value about education and in life. It explores the perspectives of undergraduate students at a technical and vocational college, their experiences at school and college, and their aspirations for the future, work and the ‘good life’. The students taking part in this study were reading for Bachelor’s degrees in Chemical Technology, Health Science and Environmental Engineering at the Malta College of Arts, Science and Technology (MCAST). The students talk about their experience in compulsory education, about their choice of subjects at school, and their favourite teachers. They explain their choices and trajectories on completing secondary education and why they were reading for a degree at a vocational college. They also speak about the influences on their choices, such as family, peers and institutional structures.

The capabilities approach is used as a framework to interpret the interview and focus group data. The capabilities approach evaluates the real opportunities, freedoms or capabilities of individuals to lead the lives they value and to make valued choices. The students in this study valued capabilities for respect, dignity and recognition, that is being recognised and respected as individuals with different needs and preferences; for a learning disposition, that is being supported and having fun while learning; for social relations, social networks and affiliation, that is feeling welcomed and part of a community at school and college; for knowledge and imagination, that is getting the knowledge they feel is important for their future and to a lesser extent for participating in society; for practical reason, that is being given access to information about various opportunities and options in life; and for valued work, in other words, work which respects the boundaries between work and other aspects of life, and autonomy at work. Conversion factors enabling or constraining the development of capabilities included the attitudes of parents towards education; experiences at school with teachers and lecturers; the influence of their peers and siblings; the structure of the education system and of educational institutions; and their work experience. Students’ perception of the ‘good life’ is having the autonomy and resources to pursue valued ‘beings and doings’. Students see education as enabling the ‘good life’ by giving them the opportunity to access interesting work, which, however, does not impinge on other spheres of life.

Item Type: Thesis (Ed.D)
Qualification Level: Doctoral
Keywords: capabilities approach, vocational college, Malta, student choice.
Subjects: H Social Sciences > H Social Sciences (General)
L Education > L Education (General)
L Education > LF Individual institutions (Europe)
Colleges/Schools: College of Social Sciences > School of Education
Supervisor's Name: Houston, Dr. Muir
Date of Award: 2020
Depositing User: Admin User
Unique ID: glathesis:2020-81429
Copyright: Copyright of this thesis is held by the author.
Date Deposited: 10 Jun 2020 09:11
Last Modified: 01 Sep 2022 14:11
Thesis DOI: 10.5525/gla.thesis.81429

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