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

‘I just think it’s really awkward’: Transitioning to Higher Education and the implications for student retention.

Williams, Helen and Roberts, Nicola (2022) ‘I just think it’s really awkward’: Transitioning to Higher Education and the implications for student retention. Higher Education: The International Journal of Higher Education Research. ISSN 0018-1560

Item Type: Article


New first-year students are vulnerable to dropping out of university because the transition into higher education (HE) is difficult to navigate. Using thematic analysis, we analysed focus groups/interview, exit interviews and qualitative survey data with university students during their first year as criminology undergraduates to explore how they transitioned into HE. Findings show that the transition to a new identity of ‘university student’ was hampered by feelings of awkwardness, which prevented students from fully integrating into student life. However, the subject of criminology was a protective factor because interest in the topic and wanting a degree for betterment, including for future career plans, buffered students against dropping out. We argue that subject specific interventions may be better in supporting the retention of students and that addressing physical, social and academic awkwardness is key.

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More Information

Uncontrolled Keywords: Retention Undergraduate Criminology Awkwardness Transition
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Depositing User: Helen Williams


Item ID: 14813
Identification Number:
ISSN: 0018-1560
Official URL:

Users with ORCIDS

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

Catalogue record

Date Deposited: 01 Jun 2022 14:41
Last Modified: 21 Jun 2022 09:33


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

University Divisions

Faculty of Education and Society > School of Social Sciences


Social Sciences > Criminology
Education > Higher Education

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