How can Business Schools best support the 'outsider student' in their transition to Higher Education?

Monika Foster, Tim Mulroy, Mark Carver

Research output: Other contribution


For any student making the transition to higher education, retention and success are predicated on building a sense of belonging among peer groups (Thomas, 2012), but recent changes in the students we recruit equally highlight the importance of considering students in transition more as individuals (Goodchild, 2017). We used focus groups and surveys to look at the experiences of students who were working alongside their studies and had completed the first year of their programme in a local college before transitioning to university. Would these students feel that they were joining a community of practice or, as in Hwang and Arbaugh (2006), engage and disengage with peers strategically based on assessments?

Themes in our data included the familiar transition issues of feeling lost, unaware of support, and simply surviving. However, we also found substantial self-organisation. Students engaged with informal groups, online and offline, and study in ways which puts them outside the traditional university experience but which, through their focus on efficiency, may still capture the essence of what it means to be an independent learner. We therefore wanted to offer some thoughts on how to helpfully work with students in the spirit of efficiency.
Original languageEnglish
Media of outputBlog
Number of pages1
Place of PublicationLondon
Publication statusPublished - 16 Dec 2019


  • higher education
  • transition
  • student experience

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