This paper reports on research into the ways that schools engage in university application processes. Questionnaire and interview data were collected from 1400 Year 13 students from 18 independent and state schools in England and 15 in-depth interviews were carried out with school teacher higher education (HE) advisors. The analysis compares independent and state schools with respect to: the types of higher education institutions (HEIs) that students applied for; the way the HE application process was managed in their schools; and how teacher advisors explained and managed the processes and outcomes for their students. Informed by Bourdieu's relational sociology, our discussion focuses on how schools in the two sectors mobilise different forms of capital in the competitive processes of university application. We also use the notion of doxa to explore how these micro-institutional processes and teacher advice relate to observed differences between state and independent sector students' HE destinations.
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