After studying the impact economic crisis has on 21st century universities, researchers conclude that times of financial instability appear to have a negative impact on many areas of higher education. Barr and Turners (2013) study indicate that enrolment into higher education during the recession increased from 48.7% to 50.8%. They suggested these increased enrolments were putting a strain on universities that were already facing challenges covering expenses, and in turn this affected the quality of education students were receiving. Additionally, Reina-Paz et al (2012) also had similar findings in terms of increased enrolments in all degrees, even those with less prestige suggesting that the lack of access to employment meant people wanted to use the crisis to their advantage by developing their knowledge. Statistics by Eurostat showed that there was better employment opportunities for people with a higher education (86%) compared with those without (56%). This however had its complications as it reiterates the fact that institutions that are already struggling, probably cant handle additional students. This then affects students in terms of the number of staff available and certain extracurricular programmes, that may have previously been available to students.
Most researchers found that universities suffer cuts of some kind in response to an economic crisis. Daim and Ozdemir (2012) as well as Dorantes and Low (2016) found that in order to eliminate unnecessary costs, institutions would discard of any courses that were considered less important or those with low enrolments. Daim and Ozdemir (2012) go on to discuss how research and development funding is concentrated on more advanced courses such as pharmaceuticals and IT. This has a negative impact on students who choose to take less popular courses, by suggesting they are in some way insignificant, or they arent making the right decision in terms of their education. Spanish university libraries also suffered with budget cuts of 16% which jeopardized access to scientific information, impacting research results (Simon-Matin et al., 2016). This can have possibly detrimental effects on the performance of students, ultimately affecting the university.
However some researchers had opposing views when it came to exactly how universities were impacted due to an economic recession. The Pell grant programme is an aid programme designed to help low income students, and during the study was found to increase from $4,675 to $4,859 during the period 2007-2009 (Barr and Turner, 2013). Their study implies that although times of economic crisis create many negatives, it also generates positives such as increasing the level of support that is provided to disadvantaged students. By contrast Reina-Paz et al (2012) as well as Dorantes and Low (2016) fail to highlight any positives and instead emphasise the budget markdowns that the crisis brought. The Spanish government were forced to enforce cuts of 3 billion euros, which meant universities had to decide between controlling spending and the quality of education they could provide. Dorantes and Low (2016) comment on how Stanford suffered cuts of $80 million to $100 million, resulting in them having to remove financially demanding courses, and even eliminating campuses in states that were too costly.
Although the researchers have addressed most impacts that economic crisis can have on universities, they havent addressed how the crisis affected students post graduation prospects. The crisis directly affects students whilst in university in ways such as a lack of resources or reduced staff, but I want to investigate how they are affected after university.
I am going to produce a research proposal that helps address how students are affected by economic crisis post graduation. My research question is: How economic crisis affects students post graduation prospects? My research question is centred around university students, so my participants will be university graduates from 2007-2009, which is when the economic crisis occurred. I plan on keeping the sample size small (15-20) as I intend on carrying out a structured interview.
An interview is a primary form of qualitative research that involves conducting intensive individual interviews with a small number of respondents to explore their perspectives on a particular idea, program or situation. (Boyce and Neale, 2006) Structured interviews also known as formal interviews are questions that are asked in a standardized order; generally the interviewer doesnt deviate or probe for more information. The interviewer should introduce themselves and let them know their contribution is vital to the study. The responses of the interviewee can be recorded during or after the interview, and should be closed with the interviewer thanking the respondent for their contribution.
1. Did you attempt to find a job after graduation?
2. How long after graduation did it take you to find employment?
3. Did you find job searching harder due to the economic crisis?
4. Did you find the salary of your job sufficient enough to meet all your needs?
5. Did you find a job within the field of your degree?
Structured interviews are easy to conduct as closed questions are used, meaning the interviewer doesnt need much training, meaning they are also cost effective. They can be done in a short amount and a large sample can be obtained. However they arent flexible meaning questions cant be added, the answers also lack detail so the interviewer cannot find out why the interviewee may feel a certain way. Moreover, they are susceptible to the interviewer effect, which is when the interviewees answers are influenced by the interviewer. Powell and Connaway (2010) discuss how scholars highlight that the interviewer should attempt to create a friendly, non-threatening atmosphere… and stress the importance of the persons participation; and assure anonymity, or at least confidentiality, when possible.
Nevertheless structured interviews are the most suitable for this study due to the small sample size and cost effectiveness. The interviewer effect also seems to occur more in less-structured interviews, due to more disclosure of personal information. More information means more opportunity to either rate the interviewee as more or less favorable as they would have in a structured interview (Sears & Rowe, 2003).