Neil Harrison wins the 2019 BERJ Editors’ Choice Award

Wednesday, July 31, 2019

Category: News

Neil Harrison has received the annual ‘Editors’ Choice’ award from the British Educational Research Journal for his article titled ‘Challenging discourses of aspiration: the role of expectations and attainment in access to higher education’, written with Richard Waller at the University of the West of England.

The ‘Editors’ Choice’ award annually recognises an article with particular impact on the discipline of education and is determined by the editorial board of the journal; this year’s award was shared with an article by George Koutsouris and Brahm Norwich at the University of Exeter and recognises articles published in BERJ in 2018.

Neil and Richard’s article explores the persistence of ‘aspiration-raising’ as a conceptual tool within efforts to widen access to higher education for disadvantaged and marginalised groups, both among policymakers and practitioners.  They argue that it has little or nothing to offer as the evidence for low aspirations among these groups is scant.  Instead, efforts should be focused on raising attainment and expectations around education as these appear to have greater explanatory power in young people’s decision-making.  The article also argues for Markus and Nurius’ ‘theory of possible selves’ as an alternative conceptual framework for future practice.

The full article can be found here:
For more information about Neil and his research see: