Transit and Transition: Student Identity and the Contested Landscape of Higher Education

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9 Citations (Scopus)


Universities have been considered a transitional space which, of course, brings into question notions of “belonging”. With the massification of higher education and an increased focus on widening participation in many countries, the demographics of the student body have been changing, challenging the essentialised notion of “the student” so central to the policy imaginarium. This chapter critically examines the question of student “belonging” as invoked in models of transition, engagement and what this may mean for retention. Focusing on space I consider the complexities of power, space, time and movement, and provide theoretical tools to position the university as a site of contestation of identity, inclusion/exclusion, belonging/otherness, and mattering/marginality. Drawing on a study of self-identified “non-traditional” students studying in Scotland, this chapter explores how these students engage with space and place, how they construct their identities as students and navigate transitions within this, and how they forge a sense of place and construct belonging in these contested landscapes.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationIdentities, Youth and Belonging
Subtitle of host publicationInternational Perspectives
EditorsSadia Habib, Michael R. M. Ward
Place of PublicationCham, Switzerland
PublisherPalgrave Macmillan
Number of pages18
ISBN (Electronic)9783319961132
ISBN (Print)9783319961125
Publication statusPublished - 20 Feb 2019

Publication series

NameStudies in Childhood and Youth
PublisherPalgrave Macmillan
ISSN (Print)2731-6467
ISSN (Electronic)2731-6475


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