Looking for people like me: The barriers and benefits to SU participation for working class students in an elite institution


  • Dani Glazzard University of Bristol Students' Union




In the context of a higher education widening participation agenda that seeks to ‘look beyond the point of entry’, this article investigates working-class students’ experiences of Students’ Unions. The article draws on a Bourdieusian conception of class to demonstrate how working-class students are discouraged from participating in Students’ Union activities on multiple fronts; economic barriers count them out of participation whilst social and cultural considerations lead them to count themselves out. However, the article also argues that, when the economic and social barriers to participation are removed, participation in Students’ Union activities can have a dramatic impact upon students’ wellbeing and personal development.

Author Biography

Dani Glazzard, University of Bristol Students' Union

Dani is Head of Student Engagement at Bristol SU. She recently completed an MSc in Social Science Research Methods at the University of Bristol. Her dissertation title was 'Are working class students getting less from higher education? A study of who benefits from Students' Union activities at an elite University.'


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