Widening access through openness in higher education in the developing world: A Bourdieusian field analysis of experiences from the National Open University of Nigeria

Felix Kayode Olakulehin, Gurmit Singh


Bourdieu has argued that higher education is a field that reproduces social inequality, thus complicating how openness widens access to higher education in the developing world. Drawing on the experiences of the National Open University of Nigeria (NOUN), this paper critically analyses and evaluates the rationale, approach, difficulties, opportunities, outcomes and benefits of NOUN’s experience in widening access to higher education in Nigeria using Bourdieu’s field theory. We argue that the success of efforts for openness in higher education in a developing world context involves steering the contradictory tensions of openness and access across competing policy and practice fields. We offer this theorisation as a future social theoretical agenda for reflexive research for improving the effectiveness of praxis to widen access through openness in higher education in the developing world.


access; Bourdieu; field; higher education; openness; reflexivity

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.5944/openpraxis.5.1.40