Diversity Festival recap: Social & economic challenges: into, in and out of higher education

July 26th, 2022

For the next few weeks, we will be highlighting one keynote event a week for those who missed out on the live sessions. This week, we’re recapping the Social and economic challenges: into, in and out of higher education event.

This keynote session brought us together as a community to explore the social and economic challenges encountered when moving into, being in and moving beyond higher education and the support and services available to overcome these.

Our UoN SU Liberation Officer set the scene by sharing our students’ union’s research into the under-representation of students from various socio-economic backgrounds.

We heard about the immense challenges which come with ‘breaking the mould’ and being the first in the family to go to university. Our student panellists shared their personal stories, and highlighted their challenges; for example, whether to attend a lecture or go to work to put food on the table, whether to pay the rent or fix the washing machine. And those difficult choices often also impacted on the choices of others around them, such as their siblings; for example, who goes to university and who doesn’t.

We learned about the importance of belonging, and that the focus for an institution shouldn’t be solely on the provision of support services but also on the demographic of those who engage with that support. Successful people ask for support and never do it alone – it doesn’t matter how difficult it can be to access that support, the key thing is to just keep trying.

Alumnus Zach Jones encouraged us to remember the phrase ‘seeing, being, doing’ – how you see influences who you become and therefore what you do. You can choose what defines you – is it your past, or the choices you make along the way? Your biggest taboo might just be your biggest asset! And this insightful analogy – the degree a student gets is the car but they need the fuel to make it go – it is the student who is the fuel for the car.

There were many powerful and inspiring moments. We hope everyone walked away with a greater understanding of how someone’s socio-economic background impacts on every aspect of their life and the choices they make.

Find out more about the support available for staff and students experiencing social and economic challenges and watch the full recording below.



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