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Title: The University Bubble: Undergraduate students’ perceptions and experiences of ‘risk’/ ’risks’ during their transition to, through and beyond university
Authors: Sykes, Grace
Supervisors: Brown, Gavin
Lees, Loretta
Award date: 16-Jun-2017
Presented at: University of Leicester
Abstract: The original contribution of this thesis is a new theorisation of a ‘bubble’ to develop understanding of student experiences, and more besides. This thesis applies the ‘bubble’ to student perception and experience of risk, during their transition to, through and beyond university. There is a growing body of research detailing wider changes in the HE landscape (neo-liberalisation, consumerisation, marketisation, 1990s expansion, widening participation policies since 1997, tuition fee rise). There is less in human geography which attends to students’ everyday lives. That which exists, often seperates traditional and non-traditional experiences, predominantly focusing on the latter and on first year, often homogenising the traditional student experience. This PhD uncovers complexities of ‘traditional’ student experiences, concentrating on undergraduates’ perceptions and experiences of risk. This thesis draws on data from a participatory research project, involving undergraduates as co-researchers, and participants, all self-identifying as ‘traditional’ students (in ways contrasting to literature). Contextually, this research was conducted during the tuition fee rise in the UK, so includes students paying lower and higher fees. The major findings and contributions of this thesis rest in a four-fold conceptualisation of the university bubble. Firstly, the bubble as a tantalising place of play, presenting risk as an exciting, new opportunity. Secondly, the bubble as spatially and relationally bound, protecting from risk, but acknowledging these boundaries may be stretched and malleable. Thirdly, the bubble generates risks through affective atmospheres, but these atmospheres overlap and interact. Fourthly, the temporary and fragile nature of the bubble, highlighting experiences of intense time, time out of time, imagined futures and how elements of the bubble persist. Through this conceptualisation of a bubble this research extends work on risk to consider a more relational and emotional approach to students’ lives, offering fluidity in meaning. It builds on existing transitions literature, assessing student experience of risk in relation to understandings of ‘emerging adulthood’, and how in a period of heightened anxiety the move to embrace risk extends far beyond this ‘youthful’ period, as we are offered constant opportunities to re-shape our identities. It questions this notion of transitions to focus on the everyday experiences and temporalities as a university student.
Type: Thesis
Level: Doctoral
Qualification: PhD
Rights: Copyright © the author. All rights reserved.
Appears in Collections:Leicester Theses
Theses, Dept. of Geography

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