• Date: Tuesday 7 February 2017
  • Time: 12:30 – 13:30
  • Location: Tpod, Park Library
  • Cost: Free

Lunchtime in the library advertisement


What does it mean to be a university student in contemporary ? There is a growing body of work detailing broader concerns impacting the HE landscape such as 1990s expansion of HE, widening participation policies (particularly since 1997), neo-liberalisation, consumerisation, tuition fee rise, REF, TEF and so on. There is less on the everyday lives of students.

Drawing on data from a participatory research project involving 60 undergraduate students (9 as co-researchers), this session explores how the current context of Higher Education and positioning of the student as a consumer in the media, and in policy, may have impacted student expectations and experience of Higher Education.

In doing so, I draw on a four-fold schematisation of a bubble to enhance our understanding of the student experience. Firstly, the paper highlights how these recent changes impact perceptions of university and how students negotiate entry into the bubble. Secondly, the paper explores how an expansion of student economies (through increased numbers, studentification and student centred facilities) brings ‘bubbles’ of studenthood into being. It discusses geographical self-segregation of students and suggested guidelines for behaviour, coupled with assumptions of university responsibility and ideas of impenetrable safe spaces in which students ‘consume’ whilst at university. Thirdly, the paper considers the temporality of the bubble and how students become increasingly aware of its fragility and prepare to exit.

To end the session, I would like to consider how this research translates into practice, reflecting on role of LLS in student experience.