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Professorial Lecture- Professor Jacqueline Stevenson

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Charles Street Building, Room 12.0.06

Charles Street

Sheffield

S1 2ND

United Kingdom

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(Im)possible futures: race, attainment and the inequalities of higher education

Despite the many promises of higher education, access, retention and degree outcomes are uneven across the student population. This affects, and limits, possibilities for post-graduate employment and, in turn, for social mobility. The promise of attaining social mobility through higher education is, for many students, a broken one.

One of the most entrenched higher educational inequalities relates to the degree attainment gap. Across the UK students from ethnic minority, or minoritised, backgrounds attain substantially worse academically than their white peers, regardless of prior attainment, social and economic background, or parental experience of HE. In short students will get better academic results if they are white than if they are not. In this lecture Professor Jacqueline Stevenson uses the concept of the Possible Self (Markus and Nurius 1986) to explore how the social and academic practices of higher education can work to either enable or deny academic possibilities, and so contribute to unequal degree attainment and post-graduate outcomes.

Drawing on her extensive research with international students, care leavers, estranged students, refugees and asylum seekers, and with students from diverse religious and ethnic backgrounds, Professor Stevenson considers the institutional practices which shape students' conceptualisations of future possibilities, before critiquing assumptions made about the extent to which students can connect these future possibilities to present behaviours. In doing so she also criticises the ways in which educational problems are frequently situated with the individual, thereby ignoring social and structural concerns.

Through her analysis Professor Stevenson argues that reframing the ways in which higher education institutions think about 'the possible' is a national imperative if the sector is to achieve the policy objectives of social mobility and so make the social democratic vision of higher education a reality.

Professor Stevenson is Head of Research in the Sheffield Institute of Education, Sheffield Hallam University. She is a sociologist of education with interests in equity and diversity, widening participation, and student success. She draws on the theoretical lenses of resilience, belonging, mattering, time, temporality and future selves. Her research is primarily qualitative, using biography, narrative inquiry and life history. She was previously Professor of Higher Education at Leeds Beckett University.

Refreshments served from 3.30-4pm

The lecture will begin at 4pm prompt.

PLEASE NOTE CAR PARKING IN THE SCIENCE PARK CAR PARKS ON ARUNDEL STREET IS AVAILABLE AT A COST OF £1 FROM 4PM - 8PM AND FREE AFTER 8PM

Discounted parking rates for all guests are available at APCOA on Eyre Street- please bring your blue chip coin to Charles Street reception to validate, and also at NCP on Arundel Gate- please bring your ticket to Charles Street reception and we will provide you with a validation ticket to go with it.



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Charles Street Building, Room 12.0.06

Charles Street

Sheffield

S1 2ND

United Kingdom

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