Tertiary education policy: a case study of student interpretations and personal effects for school leavers : a thesis presented in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Arts in Education, Education Department, Massey University
Tertiary education policy is produced in a political context with the purpose of bringing about specific planned effects. The manner in which individuals actively process policy messages within their own particular context of experience results in policy effects at times differing from projected effects for various individuals.
The thesis is based on a case study research project which examines the decision making processes of ten senior secondary school students from a single secondary school in their final year of schooling. The research aims to identify the messages that students receive from Government tertiary policy and to evaluate the extent to which these messages are incorporated into individual decision making. Additional factors which influence the post school destination eventually chosen by students are also discussed.
The personal effects of tertiary education policy differ from its ostensibly stated effects for most students. It is suggested that principles of 'fairness' and 'greater personal choice' are not realised for the majority of students. Instead, the position, disposition and communication effects of each student are shown to influence their post school destination. While all students respond to aspects of policy in the manner that it is envisaged that they would, the agency of individuals in making rational decisions within the structures of their own circumstances means that policy effects differ for each student.