Group of postgraduate students in a meeting room

Higher Education research

Explore our work in higher education, one of our areas of expertise in Education research

Participation in higher education is increasing, but substantial inequalities in access and attainment still exist, and women are still under-represented in STEM subjects. Mental health and wellbeing issues are also on the rise among student populations, and there's an urgent need to tackle sexual misconduct and sexual harassment within universities.

Our research explores the factors underpinning these issues, and seeks to find new evidence-based strategies, policies and methods to counteract them. The work we're doing is already making a difference, with universities across the UK higher education sector using our recommendations and guidance to inform their disciplinary processes into staff sexual misconduct.

Research by Anna Bull highlighted that sexual harassment of students by university academics is 'rife' across the UK sector, and shined a light on the extremely poor response of many institutions to this sexual misconduct. The findings received extensive coverage from global news outlets including The Guardian and The Independent.

We're also working with the Office for Students on major projects – including how to improve student wellbeing, mental health literacy and social support among postgraduate research students, and how to close the attainment gap for Black and Minority Ethnic (BME) students and students from low socio-economic backgrounds.
Our work is frequently published in leading academic journals, including Studies in Higher Education, Higher Education Policy, Teaching in Higher Education, and the Journal of Further and Higher Education.

Our research focuses on the following key topics

  • Student experience
  • Mental health and wellbeing
  • Learning, teaching and assessment
  • Student attainment
  • Leadership and management
  • Doctoral education

Discover our areas of expertise

Higher education is one of our 5 areas of expertise in Education research – explore the others below.

Early Years Education

In this area of expertise, we're exploring the experiences and opportunities that play a role in the development of young children.

Teacher's hand extracting early years book from shelf
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Gender, race and education

Our work is identifying, exploring and engaging with forms of discrimination across gender and race in the education system.

Female student in library looking over paperwork
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Mental Health in Childhood and Education

Through our research, we're exploring the issue of mental health and mental illness in young people.

Young women painting glassware
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Youth and Digital Networking

Our research in this area of expertise is investigating how young people aged 13–19 use social media and digital technologies in their daily lives.

Women dancing
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Research groups

Higher Education Research Group
We're researching all aspects of higher education policies and practices which impact on the staff and student experience.


Interested in a PhD in Education?

Browse our postgraduate research degrees – including PhDs and MPhils – at our Education postgraduate research degrees page.