University of Leicester
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Changing by degrees : a study of the transition from diplomas to degrees in chiropody, occupational therapy and radiography

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posted on 2014-12-15, 10:31 authored by Linda M. Merriman
This study examines the impact of the transition from diploma to degree on the initial education and training of three para-professions in England; chiropody, occupational therapy (OT) and radiography. It focuses on the nature of and reasons for changes to their initial professional education and training and the potential impact of these changes on their professionalisation. The study adopted a multiple method approach; a historical review, which included documentary sources and interviews with key informants, aimed at identifying how and why these three para-professions wanted to achieve all-graduate entry, and the use of case studies to explore the differences between the diploma and degree courses. It is concluded that the achievement of all-graduate entry for these para-professions was an unintended consequence of the policies of the then government. As a result of the achievement of all-graduate entry changes were made to the respective diploma courses of these para-professions. The extent of these changes were related to the level of control and influence that the professional bodies exercised over the diploma courses. All the degree courses shared the following features: the development of autonomous, reflective practitioners who are life-long learners, an emphasis on theory rather than practice, and emphasis on propositional knowledge and the study of research methods. Although the degree courses for these para-professions achieved approval from HEIs it is argued that degree education is a contested concept. It is apparent that the para-professionals believed that the achievement of all-graduate entry would improve their professional status. However, it is evident from the study findings that it served to maintain rather than enhance their social status and market position. Changes to the initial education and training of these para-professionals were the results of the para-professionals having to respond to prevailing social, political and economic circumstances. If they had not taken this action it is suggested that their social status and market position may have been adversely affected.


Date of award


Author affiliation

Nene College

Awarding institution

University of Leicester

Qualification level

  • Doctoral

Qualification name

  • PhD



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