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An Examination of the Dual Career Pathway and Transitions UK Student-Athletes Experience Throughout University Education

Vickers, E (2018) An Examination of the Dual Career Pathway and Transitions UK Student-Athletes Experience Throughout University Education. Doctoral thesis, Liverpool John Moores University.

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A dual career in sport is the challenge of combining a sporting career with education or work. An increasing population of athletes are choosing to further their academic careers by combining elite level sport with university education. University student-athletes may, however, be susceptible to experiencing a number of stressors (e.g., managing sport and academic timetables and personal sacrifices). This thesis extended knowledge on dual careers through the examination of athletes’ and stakeholders’ perceptions of the whole university experience, including the transition into, experiences during, and the transition out of university. A qualitative research design was employed throughout the thesis and data were collected through focus groups, longitudinal semi-structured interviews, and one-off semi structured interviews with participants from a range of UK universities. Data were analysed thematically and narratively. Additionally, autoethnographic data from the author (a former elite student-athlete) supplemented participant data. Part A explored athletes’ and stakeholders’ perceptions of the transition into university for student-athletes. Results found that student-athletes form expectations before they move into university (e.g., perceived living challenges), but often experienced different demands following the transition (e.g., increased sporting commitments following entry to university sport). These results suggest that pre-transition support may not be targeting the correct areas. Part B examined the experiences during university for student-athletes. Results found that student-athletes have diverse and challenging experiences at university, leading to the creation of five different narratives (e.g., injury narrative). Overall results highlight the importance of integrating university and external stakeholder support, and the development of more effective practitioner-athlete relationships. Finally, part C explored athletes’ and stakeholders’ perspectives of the transition out of university for student-athletes. Results found that student-athletes took five different pathways when they left university (postgraduate education, full-time sport, vocation sport dual career, triple career, and discontinuation from sport). Student-athletes experienced challenges with the renegotiation of their identity when they left university, and a loss of core support services led them to perceive that they had difficulty reaching their elite senior potential after university. Overall results of the current thesis have implications for how stakeholders educate and prepare student-athletes for transitions, and how stakeholders within the student-athletes’ circle interact whilst they are at university. Alongside an adapted theoretical framework that represents UK experiences, recommendations for improved university dual career provision in the UK are made, including the need to address why athletes are entering university, reasons why universities are supporting athletes, and the need to address the post-university gap in support systems. These recommendations challenge and extend current policy guidelines.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Uncontrolled Keywords: dual career; student-athlete; university; athletes in eduation; transitions; student-athlete transitions
Subjects: L Education > L Education (General)
G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > GV Recreation Leisure > GV561 Sports
Divisions: Sport & Exercise Sciences
Date Deposited: 22 Jun 2018 09:55
Last Modified: 29 Nov 2022 16:06
DOI or ID number: 10.24377/LJMU.t.00008878
Supervisors: Morris, R, Tod, D and Eubank, M
URI: https://researchonline.ljmu.ac.uk/id/eprint/8878
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