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Stepping Up, Standing Out

Stepping Up, Standing Out: Supporting international taught post graduates to make the most of their year in Leeds

Alison Leslie (School of Sociology and Social Policy) & Clare Wright (School of Languages Cultures and Societies)

Project overview

Our project supports international postgraduate students (IPGTs) who have told us they face barriers in adapting, belonging and succeeding while at Leeds.  Working with IPGT student partners, we will build IPGTs’ confidence, autonomy, resilience and motivation in stepping up to make the most of their time at Leeds academically and personally, and standing out as valued members of the University community.

This project is rooted in the University’s Student Education Strategy and Vision to deliver an inclusive and intercultural student experience.  Our project hopes to deliver on student success and a stronger sense of belonging through better academic outcomes and global competencies. We also hope to build a better integrated university community whereby IPGT students, as co-research partners, are repositioned as a valuable rather than deficit resource. Overall we aim to deliver a more inclusive and transformative framing of academic literacy and self-efficacy for IPGTs within the University.

The research approach

It builds on the findings of the taught post graduate (PGT) Student Experience Commission (2021-22), similar to wider research (e.g. Wright & Schartner 2013) that IPGTs can feel marginalized and disadvantaged, lacking the academic literacy to cope well with studying at universities such as Leeds.  Students report feeling ill-equipped to use university resources and processes, while struggling to develop an effective voice to raise concerns and seek help. Major challenges include unfamiliar writing and assessment pressures, handling academic integrity and criticality, feeling unprepared for dissertation work and applying for mitigating/additional circumstances. These often lead to students feeling overwhelmed and anxious and may be rooted in mismatches between university and student perceptions around broader purposes of PGT study and the value which international students bring to the learning experience.

If you would like to find out more about the project Alison ( or Clare (

Each fellowship has a project sponsor that helps the fellows achieve impact across the institution. The sponsor for this fellowship is Kenny McDowall.

Project start date: September 2022