An Exploration of the Link between Minority Ethnic and White Students’ Degree Attainment and Views of Their Future ‘Possible Selves’

  •  Jacqueline Stevenson    


There is a significant gap in degree attainment between White and minority ethnic (ME) students in the UK as measured by the percentage awarded a ‘good’ degree. The causes for the gap are highly complex; however outcomes for ME students are lower than for their White peers across the whole of the UK higher education sector. This paper explores the extent to which students views of what they believe or expect they can become, their academic ‘possible selves’ (Markus and Nurius, 1986), may inform their academic help seeking strategies and their subsequent degree attainment. Drawing on group interviews with seventy full-time, undergraduate White and ME students studying at two UK ‘Russell group’ universities the research finds that a lack of congruence between hoped for, true and ‘ought to’ selves may be informing, and limiting, the academic help-seeking strategies of Black, Asian and Chinese students compared to their White peers.

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