Student transitions into student representation and governance

Andrew Munns, Indre Urbanaviciute, Kevin Burns

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaperpeer-review

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Using Pierre Bourdieu’s concepts of habitus and field as a tool for analysis, this study explores the experiences of students as they transition into governance and decision-making roles while at university. The paper will seek to understand the experiences of student representatives, and how they adjust to the role of being the student voice in university governance. The analysis is based on interviews with twelve student representatives, operating at two different levels of decision making in one university, five of whom were sabbatical representatives contributing at institutional level, and seven nonsabbatical representatives operating at a faculty level. These differently situated representatives expressed contrasting attitudes about their roles as partners or consumers in decision making. The study will suggest that students see themselves as outsiders who enter a new subfield of academic governance within the broader field of higher education. It takes time for them to adjust to their role in this community as they learn the rules and ways of working in the subfield of academics. The paper will discuss how on entering the new subfield, the students act reflexively to the practices of the community, with an adapted habitus as they become encultured in the systems of the university.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages7
Publication statusPublished - 6 Jun 2017
EventInternational Enhancement in Higher Education Conference: inspiring excellence – transforming the student experience - Radisson Blu Hotel, Glasgow, United Kingdom
Duration: 6 Jun 20178 Jun 2017
Conference number: 3


ConferenceInternational Enhancement in Higher Education Conference
Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom
Internet address


  • University governance
  • Student representation
  • Student voice,
  • Bourdieu


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