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Sunderland Repository records the research produced by the University of Sunderland including practice-based research and theses.

League tables and the untold narrative of students’ university experiences

Roberts, Nicola (2021) League tables and the untold narrative of students’ university experiences. In: BSA 70th Anniversary Virtual Conference: Remaking the Future, 13-15 April 2021, Online. (Unpublished)

Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)


Each year, the Office for National Statistics and Discover Uni website publish online the results from the National Student Survey (NSS), which measures students’ perceptions of their university experience.Embedded within neoliberal ideology, the survey findings are combined with other measures from the Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA) with the purpose of ranking UK universities from best to worst. The resulting statistics form timely media supplements, which help guide consumer choice about where to send students to study. As such, this warrants critical debate because the league tables do not inform about the entire student experience. Firstly, students’ worlds of danger are missing, and secondly, quantitative data is prioritised over qualitative data. To address these oversights, an online survey, that allowed for open responses to ask about perceptions of on-campus safety, was sent to all students studying at a university in the north of England. This paper shows how women students’ perceptions of safety about feeling unsafe in the dark and when alone impacted upon them going onto campus to study. The implications of this are discussed: firstly, the wider impact upon students completing their education, and secondly, re-thinking metrics to take account of the social nexus in which learning is situated. It is timely to think about the latter given the global pandemic and Covid-19 restrictions reducing the numbers of individuals in public spaces. The ultimate outcome would be a wider reading of student experiences at university for consumers when informing their choices about where to study.

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Depositing User: Nicola Roberts


Item ID: 13259

Users with ORCIDS

ORCID for Nicola Roberts: ORCID iD

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Date Deposited: 26 Apr 2021 14:53
Last Modified: 06 Dec 2022 15:50


Author: Nicola Roberts ORCID iD

University Divisions

Faculty of Education and Society > School of Social Sciences

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