Leeds School of Social Sciences

PhD Student recruiting for valuable research on working-class student’s university experience

Leeds School of Social Sciences PhD student, Emily Dickens, is searching for volunteers to share their experiences of being a university student from a working-class background.

The research is part of a larger study into the ways that UK universities can encourage a feeling of belonging for all students. Emily is exploring the perceived challenges that students from working-class backgrounds face when deciding upon or starting a university course. Through the study she would like to discover new ways that universities can help a wider range of students in feeling welcomed and included.

The government has introduced initiatives to encourage non-traditional students to apply to higher education. Yet she states, “published statistics around free-school-meals status and low-participation neighborhoods still show that there are underrepresented minority groups at university.” In addition to this many working-class students despite achieving the right qualifications still feel they don’t belong when arriving at university.

Emily is recruiting current and former students who consider themselves to be from a working-class background. They can be from any UK university, she is also interested in anybody who haconsidered a university course but decided against studying.

Volunteers will take part in an online one-to-one interview with Emily through Microsoft Teams. They will be asked to discuss their personal experiences and expectations of a university within the UK whilst virtually exploring their own university campus. For those who have not previously attended a university, Emily will use and explore Leeds Beckett as an example.

 Participants will be invited to take part in the next stages of Emily’s study which includes a focus group discussion, a creative workshop to imagine ideal university spaces, and an exhibition to celebrate the creative works produced. Emily hopes to highlight “any possible challenges or obstacles faced by working-class students during their time at university and start to consider what positive changes could be made to help them feel that they fit in.

If you are interested in taking part in the study, please contact Emily Dickens at e.dickens3468@student.leedsbeckett.ac.uk or on 0113 812 5284. All participants will receive a £20 Love2Shop voucher via email as a thank you for their time.

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