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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