The Same but Different

Presenters: Claire Hamshire and Rachel Forsyth


Claire Hamshire is Head of Education within the Faculty of Health, Psychology and Social Care at Manchester Metropolitan University. Her research interests include student engagement, first generation students' experiences and learning transitions. She is a UK National Teaching Fellow and a Principal Fellow of the Higher Education Academy.




Rachel Forsyth is Associate Head of the Centre for Excellence in Learning and Teaching  at Manchester Metropolitan University, UK.  She teaches on the PGC in Learning and Teaching in Higher Education at Manchester Met, including module leadership of an open, online unit called Assessment in Higher Education. Her current research interests include the management of assessment in universities and the experiences of students who are first in their family to attend university. She is a Principal Fellow of the Higher Education Academy.


Seminar abstract

This project has developed over a number of years, beginning with narrative research into the experiences of physiotherapy students which led to an international collaboration on appropriate ways to explore the experiences of first generation students (Hamshire et al. 2017). The collaboration has led to a book which shows that first generation students describe similar feelings and concerns even though they may be studying in very different settings and have very different socio-cultural backgrounds (Bell and Santamaría 2018).

Students continue to describe similar challenges to those described in the literature on widening participation over the last thirty years, we decided to collaborate with CHED to shift the focus of the project to staff attitudes to first generation students, to find out whether there are any underlying barriers which may be affecting integration. As part of this project, we have been interviewing staff about their approaches and attitudes, and will be using the findings to produce additional resources to support change.

We have produced a set of resources to support dissemination of the work; we will share these at the workshop and discuss ways to encourage staff debate about the needs and expectations of first generation students, and what can be done in terms of curriculum and assessment design to ensure that students feel they have true access, and not just admission, to the university (Mbembe 2016).

Bell, A. & Santamaría, L.J. (2018) Understanding Experiences of First Generation University Students: Culturally Responsive and Sustaining Methodologies, Bloomsbury Publishing.

Hamshire, C., Forsyth, R., Bell, A., Benton, M., Kelly-Laubscher, R., Paxton, M. & Wolfgramm-Foliaki, E. (2017) The potential of student narratives to enhance quality in higher education. Quality in Higher Education, 1-15.

Mbembe, A.J. (2016) Decolonizing the university: New directions. Arts and Humanities in Higher Education, 15(1), 29-45.


Wed, 11 Jul 2018 -
13:00 to 14:00

CHED Boardroom, Level 6, Upper Campus, North Lane.


Contact Information: 

Please RSVP to Mzi Mnyatheli by Monday, 9 July 2018