Agency, access and barriers to post-school education: The TVET college pathway to further and higher learning
Student access to technical and vocational education and training (TVET) colleges and pathways into higher education are critical issues in South Africa. Powell and McGrath (2014) draw on theories of agency to explain why students access TVET colleges. Using sociological and social–psychological theories of agency, our study explores a theoretical perspective on student access to TVET colleges, their barriers, success, and aspirations to study at university. We selected a TVET college in the Western Cape as our research site and interviewed 30 students who had completed the National Certificate in Educare. Our analysis of the data shows that the students had enrolled at the TVET college as an alternative pathway when barriers prevented their access to universities. Evidence shows that they also encountered barriers during the course of their studies but that, despite these barriers, their desire to study at university persisted. Theoretical insights derived from the empirical evidence suggest that student success at TVET colleges may provide them with prior learning and practical work experience in order to gain access to universities.
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