Exploring level 5 student’s lived experiences of the barriers to their progression and attainment.

Activity: Academic Talks or PresentationsSeminar/WorkshopResearch


This workshop will provide an interactive workshop designed to allow participants to reflect on how they might support student success at their institution. This workshop builds upon the outcomes of a mixed methods investigation into the perceived barriers to attainment and progression in level five sport students at the University of Northampton. This study used two data sets- initially entry level data was analysed to identify some of the key characteristics of the student cohort- for example entry route, age and ethnic background. Secondly, a phenomenological case study of the lived experiences of 15 level 5 sport and exercise students was conducted. It aimed to understand the complexities of success in higher education, far beyond entry qualifications, indices of deprivation and POLAR characteristics, to offer a first-hand account of student perceptions and interpretations of the barriers they face in progression, retention, and completion on their programme. Using focus groups and interviews with students from a range of indices we have constructed a set of vignettes written in the first person that explore interpretations of our students’ lived experiences and challenges. Findings demonstrate a complex set of circumstances that centre on managing workload, use of support services and aspirations of students that conflict with university priorities.
Conclusions centre on the role of academic and pastoral support, assumptions about priorities of students and practical interventions to support achievement. This workshop will use the vignettes as a discussion prompt to raise considerations for colleagues’ own institutions. Using break out rooms and audience participation including the chat function and Padlet, we will look to consider solutions for the case study vignettes and how these could be applicable to other institutions. The outcomes of this workshop are to raise awareness of the complex set of circumstances students in higher education may face and to offer our colleagues means by which they may be able to support their students and represent their voice in their teaching, learning and assessment practices.
Period26 Apr 2023
Event titleThe Open University’s 7th Biennial International Conference on Access, Participation and Success
Event typeWorkshop
Degree of RecognitionInternational


  • access and participation
  • barriers
  • lived experience
  • Attainment