Close menu


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

Apprehension, anxiety and awkwardness: transitioning to Higher Education and the implications for student retention

Williams, Helen and Roberts, Nicola (2021) Apprehension, anxiety and awkwardness: transitioning to Higher Education and the implications for student retention. In: EuroCrim Conference, 8-10 September 2021, Online. (Unpublished)

Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)


The transition to higher education is an important predictor of continued engagement in studies.

The Criminology Longitudinal Retention Project tracked 3 consecutive first-year cohorts from 2014 to 2020, using a multi-method approach. The focus of this paper is the analysis of 6 focus groups/interview with students during their first year of study to understand how students settle at university.

Often the transition to a new identity of ‘university student’ was hampered by awkwardness or anxiety, which prevented students from fully integrating into student life. The discourse of awkwardness was represented by physical/geographical, social and academic discomfort.

However, the subject of Criminology was a ‘protective’ factor because interest in the topic and wanting a degree for betterment buffered students against dropping out. This suggests that a Criminology curriculum which: i) reminds students of their motivations for study ii) that implements extra-curricula criminology activities, and that is iii) explicitly professions-facing may support students to embed their student identity successfully. This could ameliorate the awkwardness of transition and support retention. This paper is pertinent in the current climate given the move to online teaching during the pandemic, as students socialising, access to university amenities, and knowledge of the city/campus is limited.

Full text not available from this repository.

More Information

Depositing User: Nicola Roberts


Item ID: 13948

Users with ORCIDS

ORCID for Helen Williams: ORCID iD
ORCID for Nicola Roberts: ORCID iD

Catalogue record

Date Deposited: 10 Sep 2021 16:00
Last Modified: 10 Sep 2021 16:00


Author: Helen Williams ORCID iD
Author: Nicola Roberts ORCID iD

University Divisions

Faculty of Education and Society > School of Social Sciences


Social Sciences > Criminology

Actions (login required)

View Item (Repository Staff Only) View Item (Repository Staff Only)