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Research Project Summary

Students’ Experiences in Higher Education

About the Study

Today, more and more young who have lived in foster care or residential care as a child are being encouraged and supported to continue with their education.  Helping care leavers into Higher Education (HE) has been a focus of government policy for some time now, but a recent study has shown that care experienced young people at university have higher withdrawal rates than other students. Researchers at University College London (UCL) have been commissioned by the Access and Widening Participation Team at UCL to carry out a study to investigate how young people from a care background experience Higher Education.

The aim of this study is to understand how universities address the issue of student retention from the institutional perspective and from the perspective of students and former students. The study is split into three parts:

Part one involves a literature review to inform the development of a survey which seeks to capture the institutional arrangements and services that are in place at Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) to support students from care and other risk backgrounds.

Part two will utilise qualitative methods to better understand the everyday lives and experiences of  care experiences students in HE and those who withdrew before completing their courses . Young people will be invited to take part in a walking interview, a form of mobile ethnography, where they will guide the researcher around their university campus and the surrounding area to explore day to day life at university. If they are no longer at university, they will be asked to take us on a tour of their old university campus or local neighbourhood /places that have significant meaning to their everyday life.

The final part of the study will see young people actively taking a role the analysis of data and generating key messages from the research. We would also like to invite young people to participate in producing video and other media based outputs from the study for dissemination to university staff.

We would like to ask the relevant teams for help with identifying potential participants and inviting them to participate in the study. The research team would like to recruit 30 care leavers in total aged 18 and over; 20 of whom are currently in HE and 10 who, within the last 2 years, withdrew from university.  Click here  for an information sheet for you to pass onto young people with a reply slip for them to provide their contact detail and return to you or us via a link.

Hanan Hauari  h.hauari@ucl.ac.uk

Katie Hollingworth katie.hollingworth@ucl.ac.uk

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Information sheet for Young People

Researchers at University College London would like to invite you to take part in a study. Before you decide if you want to join in it is important to understand why the research is being done and what it will involve for you. Please read this leaflet carefully. Talk to others about the study if you wish. If you’re happy to take part please provide you contact details at the end and return them to us or to the person who gave you this information sheet.

Please contact us if you have questions or would like more information. We’d be happy to talk to you about the study. Our contact details are on the next page.

What is the purpose of the study?

Today, more and more young who have lived in foster care or residential care as a child are being encouraged and supported to continue with their education, but a recent study has shown that care experienced young people at university are more likely leave before completing their course than other students. The aim of this study is to understand how care leavers experience higher education and how they can be better supported to complete their course.

 Why have I been asked to take part?

We would like to speak to university students who are currently in their second or final year of a degree course and those who have previously attended university but did not complete their course. We would like to involve young people from a range of universities across London and the South East.

Do I have to take part?

No. Participation is completely voluntarily.  Your participation will be anonymous. If you do take part then you will be asked to sign a consent form. You will be given a copy of the consent form and this information sheet to keep. You are free to withdraw from the research at any time and without giving a reason.

What do I have to do if I take part?

If you agree to take part, we will ask you to take part in a walking talking interview where you will guide the researcher around your university campus and the surrounding area to explore day to day life at university. If you are no longer at university, we will ask you to take us on a tour of your local neighbourhood or places that are important to you in your day to day life. It is up to you where we start and finish the tour. We will audio record the walk so that we can type up our conversation later and use it for analysis and to write up the research findings.

During the guided walk we’ll ask you to take photographs on your mobile phone of places that are particularly important to you. When we’ve finished the walk, we’ll find a public space or café of your choice to talk a bit more about the places we’ve seen and the photos you’ve taken to explore your university experience in more detail.

Why should I take part?

By taking part in the study and sharing your experiences with us, we can help universities understand what it’s like for students who have been in care as children to be at university, so they can provide students with the best experience possible and better support them to succeed.

What if I change my mind?

You are free to stop taking part at any point during the study. At which point all you details and any data collected will be deleted.

 What happens to my information?

Data collected from the interviews will be analysed by researchers and written up. During this process we will invite some participants to take part in a group discussion to review findings and identify key messages from the research study.

 What happens when the research study stops?

The final stage of the research involves communicating key messages from the study.  Young people that have participated in an interview will be invited to help researchers review the key messages and plan how best to communicate these.  Some of the outputs we have in mind are short films and blog posts produced by students’ former students people in collaboration with researchers and media professionals.  This is separate to taking part in the interview and you will be asked whether the research team can re-contact you later about being involved in this process. You would be given more information about the filming and asked to sign another form saying that you agree to the filming and use of the blogpost.

We will have a newsletter at the end of the study to let everyone know the results of the study; we can send you a copy if you are interested. We will publish our results and present at relevant conferences. Nothing will be published that will identify you; unless you take part in the filming. Data collected will be stored securely at University College London for 10 years. Any voice recordings will be destroyed once they have been typed up.

Will my taking part in the study be kept confidential?

Your participation in the study will be confidential. All information will be treated in the strictest confidence. Only the researchers will have access to the information collected during this project.

 

Who is organising and funding the research?

This research is funded by the Access and Widening Participation Team at University College London. You can find out more about them here: http://www.ucl.ac.uk/prospective-students/widening-participation/wp-home

Contact Details

Research Team:

Hanan Hauari  h.hauari@ucl.ac.uk

Katie Hollingworth katie.hollingworth@ucl.ac.uk

If you are interested in taking part and are happy for a researcher to contact you to discuss this further with you then please click on the following link and fill in your contact details here  and email it to the research team or pass it back to the person who gave you this information sheet.