As a research project, I was requested to develop a literature review to explore the sense of belonging students feel when beginning their university courses and establish what else can university’s do to improve this. In the report completed for Canterbury Christ Church University, I explored the experiences of social belonging within an academic setting and the pressures students experience, which could impact their ability to blend into the university setting. Furthermore, the report illiterate factors impact students’ submission process to university.
Attending university as a first-generation is not only a teachable experience for the students but also for the parents and additional family (Universities UK, 2022). It is a learning curve for managing education, work and social life. In addition, as University UK (2022) explains, the lack of experience within the family can result in fear of additional costs, with fear of bailiffs or eviction if the student does not begin paying their finances back immediately. The term loan, concerning student loans, is also considered problematic. National Debtline (2022) debunks many myths on student loans, reminding people that the loans are not payable back until the student graduates and over £27,295 per year, with an average of 9% of the salary paid back yearly. However, for families with no experience applying for student loans, the term places this additional pressure upon families without complete awareness of the payment scheme.
Upon joining a higher education program, students experience a variety of emotions, including imposter syndrome, questioning whether they belong, mental health and pressures of society. Sutton Trust (2017) explains that the attainment gap is narrowing in Britain, with more first-generation students attending university and completing their degrees. However, work is still needed to encourage first-generation. Students seeking higher education and addressing their experiences of belonging could increase foot-flow into courses.