Project: Evidencing sense of belonging at Leeds

PROJECT DATE: SUMMER 2021

Researcher: Hope Hutchison

I’m Hope – I have a first class undergraduate degree in Theology and Religious Studies from Leeds and I am currently completing a Masters on the same course. I’m delighted to be able to contribute research to the vital topic of ‘belonging’ within University life. Social unity and a strong sense of belonging through different lenses of intersectionality is a great interest of mine – embedding belonging into daily practice benefits anyone looking to improve the overall success of University students.

In this project I have been working with the belonging at Leeds team to develop ‘belonging at Leeds’ case studies. I have been collating existing material from various other projects relating to ‘belonging’, gathered through conversations, surveys, and student feedback. The purpose of the case studies is to inspire staff to embed belonging into their day-to-day practice in order to improve student wellbeing and success. To create the case studies, I have conducted a thematic analysis of the existing material. The analysis highlighted certain themes/ problems that may hinder a sense of belonging. The themes represent a ‘typical student journey’ – for example ‘Making friends/connections’ ‘Dealing with a New environment’ and ‘Accessing well signposted student support’ combined with a cross analysis of a variety of ‘student types’ with the goal to include as wide a variety of ‘non- traditional’ students as possible e.g., Mature Students/ Care Leavers/ Students with Disabilities/ commuters/ international students/ students with caring responsibilities and so on. In addition, I have had the opportunity to apply my experience and knowledge of the student experience to help the team develop the tone and content of the University’s ‘belonging’ staff-facing website.