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  2. C,CE&ES Group 2: Tuesday 16th March, 10:10 - 11:10

C,CE&ES Group 2: Tuesday 16th March, 10:10 - 11:10

  1. 2.4 Socialization and the Language of Exclusion in Higher Education
  2. 2.5 Collaborative practice to improve support for Care Leavers

2.4 Socialization and the Language of Exclusion in Higher Education

Jennifer Hillman and Joanne Scott

Click to download 2.4 Socialization and the Language of Exclusion in Higher Education (.pptx)

It has been widely acknowledged that students from non-traditional backgrounds in UK Higher Education (HE) lack the socialization that that they need to succeed (Reay, et al, 2001; Donnelly, 2016). This approach to inequality in education has been largely influenced by the work of sociologist Pierre Bourdieu (1930-2002). The Bourdieusian theory of social and cultural ‘capital’ in education is premised on the idea that the ability of individuals to succeed is, at least in part, predetermined by their social class. Bourdieu argued that students who are not exposed to a more middle class way of life and culture (or ‘habitus’) lack the skills, knowledge, experiences and contacts (or ‘capital’) to excel in HE institutions (Reay, 2018).  

In this seminar, we respond to the more recent call for scholars to consider not only the home socialization and ‘habitus’ of non-traditional students, but also the institutional habitus and dominant cultural codes of the University (Byrd, 2019). In order to confront the often exclusionary discourse of HE, this seminar presentation explores the effects that institutional ‘language’ can have on student learning experiences. In the seminar, we present on the findings of a study conducted in the current academic year. The students who were the subject of the investigation all fulfil various ‘Widening Participation’ characteristics and were studying on a Foundation-Year programme. Going beyond the study of student acquisition of subject-specific, specialist discourse (Northedge, 2003), we look more broadly at the language of exclusion across the institution and question whether this may perpetuate educational inequities. Our objective in the seminar is to invite delegates to reflect on the language of their own programmes / institutions and to consider their own practice in relation to our findings.  


  • Byrd, D. 2019. ‘Uncovering Hegemony in Higher Education: A Critical Appraisal of the Use of “Institutional Habitus” in Empirical Scholarship Review of Educational Research.’ 8 9(2). pp. 171–210. DOI: 10.3102/0034654318812915.  
  • Donnelly, M. 2016. ‘Inequalities in Higher Education: Applying the Sociology of Basil Bernstein.’ 52 (2). pp. 316–332. DOI: 10.1177/0038038516656326.  
  • Northedge, A. 2003. ‘Enabling Participation in Academic Discourse, Teaching in Higher Education,’ 8 (2), pp. 169-180, DOI: 10.1080/1356251032000052429.  
  • Reay, D. Miriam, D. & Ball, S. 2001.’ Making a Difference? Institutional Habituses and Higher Education Choice.’ Sociological Research Online. 5 (4). DOI: 5. 10.5153/sro.548. 
  • Reay, D. 2018. Bourdieu and Education. London: Routledge.  

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2.5 Collaborative practice to improve support for Care Leavers 

Joe Cunningham, Claire Giles and David Munn, Widening Participation & Social Mobility Directorate, University of Southampton, and Laura Thompson, Care experienced student intern, University of Southampton

Click to download 2.5 Collaborative practice to improve support for Care Leavers (.pptx)

Watch the recorded session


Support for care leavers at the University of Southampton is strong however remained limited to financial with some pastoral support.  

The creation of a lifecycle focused Widening Participation & Social Mobility Directorate in Feb 2020 however brought increased focus to joined up pre-arrival, transition and success activity for Care Leavers. This project led by Outreach but with Access and Success experienced staff and supported by a care-experienced student intern has re-shaped our work broadening the offer for students in line with the Pathways to University from Care Recommendations (Ellis & Johnston 2019), and will allow us to provide more consistency from the perspective Care Leavers across their full student life cycle.   

This seminar looks at the impacts of changes both in this work, and as an example of best practice for other projects. 

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