Routes through higher education: BME students and the development of a ‘specialisation of consciousness’

Kalwant Bhopal, Martin Myers, Clare Pitkin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)
64 Downloads (Pure)


With changing demographics and the advent of mass higher education, there has been a significant impact on graduate transitions which has led to greater inequalities in access to social support during the transitionary period between undergraduate study and entrance into the labour market. This article explores the experiences of students in their final year of undergraduate study by drawing on 43 interviews with Black and Minority Ethnic (BME) students. Using Bourdieu, we argue that BME students preparing to enter the labour market display a ‘specialisation of consciousness’: a set of practices framed by their prior background and experience, choice of university and the support derived from attending university. ‘Specialisation of consciousness’ is an ongoing process in which BME students identify and understand racial inequalities in higher education and accept the limiting consequences these have on transitions into the labour market or further study.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1321-1337
JournalBritish Educational Research Journal
Issue number6
Early online date15 May 2020
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 15 May 2020


  • bourdieu
  • inequality
  • race
  • transitions

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education


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