Participatory research into the academic experiences of LGBT+ student experiences

This research project looked to examine how the academic experiences of NTU’s LGBT+ students could be improved. With little research taken on the topic elsewhere the findings shine a light onto the area and how universities can better support LGBT+ students.

LGBT city

  • Aim

    The aim of this project was to learn more about LGBT+ student academic experiences. These students (members of the LGBT community) were recruited and trained to undertake participatory research with other LGBT+ identifying students.

  • What it was

    This project engaged 35 LGBT+ students from across the University, utilising creative research methodology to investigate their academic experience. Students came from all schools and campuses in the University. Co-creation associate students supported the design, delivery and analysis of the research.

  • Why

    NTU has a long-standing history of supporting inclusion and has engaged in several activities to support the increased recognition and support of the LGBT+ community such as diverse institutional strategies, celebrating LGBT+ History Month and having an active staff and allies’ scheme.

    Though, there is little research in existing literature into the specific academic experiences of LGBT+ students, which could be used to inform future developments in the sector and support the creation of inclusive learning strategies, which this research project set out to achieve.

  • Headline findings

    • The experience of coming out while at university can present identity challenges that students see potentially having an impact on their course work, impacting their ability to focus on their studies.
    • On a macro level, students encounter ‘visibility’ on campus but indicated that this visibility, and hence a sense of belonging, was not consistently seen on their course, and could affect how they feel about their academic experience. Our findings show that greater consideration could be given to the hetero-normativity of university life This could include considering the further development of gender-neutral toilets but could also look at work to raise awareness and openness about the complexity of LGBT+ experience while at university.
    • On some courses students perceived that LGBT issues are framed as ‘different’, or ‘specialist’ in similar ways to those seen in decolonising the curriculum. i.e. LGBT authors absent from reading lists, queer theory not embedded with other theoretical approaches, hetero-normativity in biomedical courses.

  • Full Report

    The full report can be found here.

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