“I am just a loser of higher education”: a framework for comparative analysis of the value of Chinese AHE

Andrea Abbas, Shanshan Guam

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


This paper proposes a unique framework for comparative analysis of different Adult Higher Education (AHE) systems. The framework combines, a conceptualisation of how students’ outcomes are shaped by the way that they and their degree courses are positioned in stratified higher education systems with, insights about the effects of institutional practice and individual students’ agency gained from applying Basil Bernstein’s notion of pedagogic rights and underpinning concepts. The framework facilitates an exploration of structures and agencies manifesting through institutional practices, students’ and graduates’ experiences. The value of the framework is illustrated by an analysis of biographical interviews with twenty female, Chinese AHE students and ten graduates. It tracks an emergent process evident in students and graduates’ descriptions of their disappointing emergent identities and limited employment progression. The framework provides a non-deterministic analysis that can inform how to comparatively analyse and improve AHE’s contribution to societies and economies.
Original languageEnglish
Article numberCSHE 1820474
JournalStudies in Higher Education
Publication statusAcceptance date - 4 Sep 2020


  • stratified higher education system, , ,
  • adult higher education
  • China
  • pedagogic rights
  • , inequality of higher education

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • Sociology and Political Science

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