Class Equality in Higher Education (Resource List)

This resource was put together by John Attridge, a PGR in the School of Literature and Languages.

Resources for tackling class or income-based inequalities in higher education settings. 

Alliance of Working-Class Academics 

A network supporting faculty and students from diverse working class backgrounds. 

Behavioural Insights in Higher Education 

A blog series started and maintained by King’s College London, which explores how behavioural insights approaches can be utilised for improving student access to (and success in) university. Many of the blog posts focus on issues of social mobility, the impact of poverty on working-class students and the effects of assimilation on working-class and other, marginalised students who change or alter their behaviours in higher education settings. 

The Brilliant Club 

An organisation that works with schools and universities across the UK in an attempt to bridge the low-income attainment gap. They mobilise the PhD community by hiring “PhD Scholars” to support less advantaged students access the most competitive universities, and to help them succeed when they get there.  

‘Cambridge University offers disadvantaged students a second chance to apply’ –

A 2019 article by journalist Sally Weale that examines a new scheme introduced by the University of Cambridge to offer disadvantaged students – particularly First Generation Scholars or those from low-income backgrounds – a second chance to apply through UCAS. This is in addition to their £500m “Transition Programme” to encourage these applications in the first instance. 

The Class Work Project – 

A worker’s writing co-operative battling stigma and class-based discrimination in the writing and publishing industries by centring the knowledge and experiences of poor and working-class people in their own quarterly publication. 

#CutTheFees Campaign

Led by the Intergenerational Foundation (a research and education charity), the #CutTheFees campaign aims at reducing tuition fees at universities through concerted efforts at lobbying the UK government via campaigns and petitions. You can sign their latest petition here: 

The Fed –—network-of-writing–community-publishers-19805/home# 

A network/umbrella organisation for community writing and publishing groups. Originally established in 1976 as the Federation for Workers Writers and Community Publishers (FWWCP), The Fed is a volunteer-run organisation which aims to encourage and promote writing by ordinary, working-class people who may either struggle to get their ideas down on paper, or struggle to get their work disseminated using traditional publishing routes.

Review of ‘Higher Education and Social Inequalities’

A review by Ross Goldstone of the 2017 book Higher Education and Social Inequalities: University Admissions, Experiences and Outcomes, edited by Richard Waller, Nicola Ingram and Michael R. M. Ward. This book explores participation and experience delineated by social class as a means to understanding the outcomes of such university participation. This review deconstructs the theory of “meritocracy” whilst also tackling how working-class students negotiate their “learner identity” once settled at university. 

‘Higher Education and Working Class Academics: Precarity and Diversity in Academia’ – 

A 2020 article by Teresa Crew that draws on the work of Pierre Bourdieu to examine the experiences of working class academics; the intersections between class, ethnicity, disability and gender; and which illustrates the pitfalls of using homogenous terms to describe a diverse group of individuals. 

‘How to Make Universities More Inclusive – Hire More Working Class Academics’ 

A plea published in The Conversation by Law and Social Sciences lecturer Carole Binns to utilise existing Widening Participation initiatives to recruit more working class academics. Based on research for her latest book, Experiences of Academics from a Working Class Heritage: Ghosts of Childhood Habitus (2019). 

Interrupting Class Inequality in Higher Education: Leadership for an Equitable Future

This book (published 2017) by Laura M. Harrison and Monica Hatfield Price explores why socioeconomic inequality persists in higher education despite widespread knowledge of the problem. Through a critical analysis of the current leadership practices and policy narratives that perpetuate socioeconomic inequality, this book outlines the trends that negatively impact low- and middle-income students and offers effective tools for creating a more equitable future for higher education. 

‘Is Social Class relevant in Higher Education today?’ – 

A short blog post published by the London School of Economics and Politics, which shines a light on class-based research in higher education and how it illuminates social inequity in academia today. 

‘“The Levelling Down”’ of Working Class Students’ 

An article by Diane Reay (and published via CLASS Online – the Centre for Labour and Social Studies) which examines why students from low-income backgrounds are consistently underestimated compared to middle and upper-class peers, particularly in relation to predicted UCAS grades. 

The Paired Peers Project 

A data-led, three-year research project (facilitated and funded by the The Leverhulme Trust, the University of the West of England and the University of Bristol) that aims to explore and assess the processes by which higher education promotes social mobility whilst simultaneously maintaining income-based inequalities. ‘Paired Peers: Moving On Up’ continues this work in a similar vein.

Social Class and English Studies – 

A special edition (first published 2004) of the journal College English, which explores and critically analyses issues of class and working class representation within the English classroom, in both secondary and higher education environments. 

Support for Working Class Students – 

Organised by Student Space in partnership with RECLAIM, this is a monthly webinar & podcast series exploring the challenges that students from working-class backgrounds are facing during the pandemic. This might include challenges transitioning to online learning, managing mental health or navigating intersections between race and class. 

Supporting Working Class Students in Higher Education – 

A 2014 article by Krista Soria and Mark Bultmann which examines self-identifying working class students’ experiences in higher education contexts and settings. Early findings indicate that students experience a lower sense of belonging than other students, perceive a less welcoming campus climate and pursue fewer society/social engagements than peers who identify as middle/upper-middle class. 

‘Working Class Educational Transitions to University: The Limits of Success’ – 

Another article by Diane Reay, which explores the transitions to university experienced by working class students in England at a time of growing economic inequality. The paper examines discrimination, social exclusion and competition experienced by such students during their times at university. 

The Working Class Movement Library – 

An archive of books, journals, diaries, letters and multimedia sources consisting of working class writing and notes from ordinary people, which has the aim of elevating working class voices. Based in Salford, Manchester. 

Working Class Studies Association – 

An organisation that supports the scholarship, research, teaching and activism related to working class life and cultures. Also, the publisher of the Journal of Working-Class Studies