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April 25, 2013

Readers of “Posh spice up CVs to gain edge at post-92s” (News, 11 April), which covered the status anxiety of some upper-middle-class students over not getting into Russell Group universities, might be interested in learning more about the study from which the finding emerged.

The Paired Peers project, a Leverhulme Trust-funded collaboration between the University of Bristol and the University of the West of England, is a qualitative longitudinal study following a cohort of students through the years of their degrees (details of our many findings can be obtained on our website).

Given the current funding situation, one finding that may be of particular interest is that our participants considered themselves part of a “degree generation”; despite considerable concerns about fee rises, the students believed that having a degree was vital for survival in a competitive economy. Most felt that going to university was a must, whatever the cost.

Moreover, the students at both institutions were extremely satisfied with their courses. In the first year, asked to rate their university experience, 95 per cent of participants at UWE and 86 per cent at Bristol scored it seven or higher. In the third year, 68 per cent at UWE and 71 per cent at Bristol thought their course and support was good or very good (with a mean score of four out of five).

Of course, this is a qualitative project so the numbers are small, but this does support our qualitative evidence of the satisfactory nature of the vaunted “student experience” offered by the two universities.

Harriet Bradley and Richard Waller
On behalf of the Paired Peers team
University of Bristol and UWE

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