Exploring Social Justice in


Browne, L. (2010). As UK policy strives to make access to higher education easier for all, is discrimination in employment practice still apparent? Journal of Vocational Education & Training, 62(3), 313–326.


This article deconstructs hiring policies across the HE sector in the U.K. in terms of access and opportunity with the aim to assess whether or not staff recruitment practices are socially and culturally biased. According to the existing research, social and economic privileges continue to exert a powerful influence on academic success and employability prospects. Over the last decade, the expansion of HE has disproportionately benefited those from higher social classes. This is despite concerted attempts to widen access through various diversity and inclusion initiatives. For Browne, inequalities in degree outcome continue to persist for two principal reasons: (1) the underlying presumption that one’s credentials (cultural capital) and occupational access (social capital) are interlinked; and (2) the problematic focus on individual capital, qualities and skills as evinced in the linguistic shift from employment to employability. Using a comparative case-study of recruitment practices used at the end of two graduate internships in financial services, the author maintains that the growing number of student enrollments from working-class backgrounds is symptomatic of a credentials inflation rather than the result of increased mobility.