Barriers to engagement at UCL

Jenny Marie, Sally MacKenzie, Steve Rowett, Moira Wright


This case study considers the views of ten University College London (UCL) staff about ‘hard to reach’ students. Staff were chosen so as to give an insight into the issue for different types of engagement: academic, support, union activities and volunteering. Focusing on these types of engagement together confirms that part-time students face barriers to engaging in many aspects of university life and that all students face barriers to some aspect of university life. This paper also draws attention to the potential risks inherent in focusing on ‘hard-to-reach’ students as an approach to improving inclusivity. It also raises the issue of how barriers to inclusion interact and whether we should be considering ‘staff engagement’ alongside ‘student engagement’.

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Marie, J., Rowett, S., MacKenzie, S., Wright, M. and Lusk, S. (2017) ‘Which Lenses Best Help us Make our Practices Inclusive?’ Journal of Educational Innovation, Partnership and Change, 5.

Porter, A. (2013) ‘Meaningful Engagement with Disabled Students.’ In: Dunne, E. and Owen, D (eds.) The Student Engagement Handbook: Practice in Higher Education. Bingley: Emerald Group Publishing Ltd., 181-196.



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