Publications from the 'Sheffield Student 2013' project

The 'Sheffield Student 2013' longitudinal tracking project produced tremendous amounts of data, thanks to the continued interest of the students I interviewed as well as WPREU and the University of Sheffield committing to a total of four years of research into student experiences.

The project website lists all outcomes, including a pilot study working paper, a collaborative paper from the first year results, the first and second year financial reports, and selected conference papers.

Download the Five years of WPREU book here.

For a copy of the final report, please get in touch.

Project close report
WPREU Five year book

journal papers from the 'Sheffield Student 2013' project

There is currently much interest in the interconnections between research and teaching in Higher Education. This relationship is usually termed ‘the research/teaching nexus’. However, within this wide body of literature there has been little attempt to explore the emergent experiences of students across the entire length of their degree programme. Drawing on the results of a three-year qualitative study that followed 40 students through their whole student lifecycle, this paper explores how undergraduates in an English university experienced the research/teaching nexus, how those experiences developed over time, and how these changes can be variously enabled or constrained. Situating the findings in the context of the ‘post-truth’ society and the uncertainty of employment futures, the paper highlights how the nexus can also often serve to exclude students as much as it includes.

(open access version)

In 2012, the UK government introduced the National Scholarship Programme – a scheme that aimed to ensure that young people from families with low household incomes would not be discouraged from entry into higher education by increases in tuition fees. Drawing on longitudinal evidence in the form of 80 semi-structured interviews conducted in an English Red Brick University over a 3-year period, this article uses Jenkins’ work on social identification to examine the processes by which these post-2012 undergraduates used and experienced the financial support made available to them as part of the Programme. The article explores how the initially categorical label associated with being a student in receipt of financial assistance was variously understood and experienced as they moved through their degree. Not only did the additional finance allow students to avoid excessive part-time work, recipients also felt increasingly valued by the institution when they began to recognise how their financial circumstances differed from their peers, and that the university had made this provision for them. It remains to be seen whether these, more intangible, benefits of non-repayable financial support will transfer to the system of ‘enhanced’ loans that have subsequently replaced maintenance grants and the National Scholarship Programme.

(open access version)

There is a continuing trend within higher education policy to frame undergraduate study as ‘human capital investment’—a financial transaction whereby the employment returns of a degree are monetary. However, this distinctly neoliberal imaginary ignores well-established information asymmetries in choice, non-monetary drivers for education, as well as persistent inequalities in access, participation, and outcome. Non-linearity and disadvantage are a central feature of both career trajectory and graduate employment. This paper draws on the findings of a longitudinal, qualitative project that followed 40 undergraduate, home students over a period of four years in an English Red Brick University. Exploring the nature of career development over the whole student lifecycle and into employment, the paper examines how career strategies are experienced by lower-income students and their higher-income counterparts. It provides a typology of career planning and, in comparing the experiences of lower- and higher-income students, demonstrates some of the processes through which financial capacity and socio-economic background can impact on career planning and graduate outcomes.

There has been an increasing emphasis placed on the skills and attributes that university students develop whilst studying for their degree. These ‘narratives of employability’ often construct extracurricular activity (ECA) as an essential part of gaining post-graduation employment. However, these future-oriented drivers of engagement often neglect the role ECAs have within contemporary student life-worlds, particularly with respect to lower-income students. Drawing on a 3-year longitudinal study that tracked a cohort of 40 undergraduates throughout their student life cycle, this paper examines how students in a northern English red brick university understood the purposes of ECA, and how they chose to engage with it. The results suggest ECAs appear to be somewhat stratified in terms of timeliness of 20 engagement and motivation to participate. By extension, the paper argues that those recent attempts to measure and use ECA to narrate future ‘global’ employability are likely to reproduce well-established inequalities. As such, any further pressure to engage with ECAs solely in terms of employability could 25 result in the further marginalisation of lower-income students.

(open access version)

This paper explores how the various pressures of finance, employability, and part-time work are experienced by undergraduates studying in an English Red Brick University. Drawing on the results of a three-year qualitative study that followed 40 students throughout their three years of studies (n₁=40, n₂=40, n₃=38, n total =118), the paper details three dimensions by which students understood their part-time employment experiences: the characteristics of employment types; motivations for employment; and, the challenges of shaping their employment experiences around their studies. It is argued that the current shortfalls in the student budget and the pressures of the employability agenda may actually serve to further disadvantage the lower income groups in the form a ‘double deficit’. Not only are discrepancies between income and expenditure likely to mean that additional monies are necessary to study for a degree, the resulting need for part-time employment is also likely to constrain both degree outcome and capacity to enhance skills necessary for ‘employability’.

(open access version)

Drawing on a thematic analysis of longitudinal qualitative data (ntotal = 118), this article takes a “whole student lifecycle” approach to examine how lower and higher income students at an English northern red brick university variously attempted to manage their individual budgets. It explores how students reconcile their income—in the form of loans, grants, and bursaries—with the cost of living. Four arenas of interest are described: planning, budgeting, and managing “the student loan”; disruptions to financial planning; the role of familial support; and strategies of augmenting the budget. In detailing the micro‐level constraints on the individual budgets of lower and higher income undergraduates, the article highlights the importance of non‐repayable grants and bursaries in helping to sustain meaningful participation in higher tariff, more selective, higher education institutions. It also supports an emerging body of literature that suggests that the continuing amendments to the system of funding higher education in England are unlikely to address inequality of access, participation, and outcome.

(open access version)

This article critically examines how undergraduate students in a red brick university in the North of England have experienced the threefold rise in tuition fees since 2012, with particular attention on how they have begun to understand and negotiate the process of indebtedness. Drawing on a corpus of 118 interviews conducted with a group of 40 undergraduates across their whole student lifecycle, analysis is directed toward examining how students have variously sought to respond to the policy, reconcile the debt with their decision to study at university and, begin to negotiate a life of everyday indebtedness. The findings are located in the context of wider neoliberal policy trends that have continued to emphasise ‘cost-sharing’ as a mechanism for increased investment within the higher education sector generally, and individual fiscal responsibility specifically. Given the lack of any other viable career pathways for both lower and higher income students, they had to accept indebtedness as inevitable and take what comfort they could from the discourses of ‘foregone gain’ that they had been presented with. Evidently, and as the students in our sample well recognised, whether those discourses actually reflect the future remains to be seen. There is also no evidence within our data that students anticipated the subsequent changes to the repayment terms and conditions – a fact that is likely to compound feelings of economic powerlessness and constrain their capacity for financial agency yet further.

(open access version)

English higher education institutions are required to spend a proportion of their additional fee income on activities to widen participation, and this is overseen by the Office for Fair Access (OFFA). In the past decade universities have invested the largest proportion of their widening participation spending in financial support for students. However, recent OFFA guidance encourages institutions to rebalance their spending away from financial support towards other outreach and success measures. Some universities have responded by pointing out the contribution of financial support to improving the student experience, contributing to students' success in higher education and beyond. Using two sets of institution-specific data, this paper looks at the relationship between student financial support, part-time work and the academic components of the student experience at the University of Sheffield, a 'northern redbrick university'. After pointing to the financial shortfall implied in the student support system, the paper describes how the need to take term-time jobs to pay basic living expenses is unevenly distributed across the student cohort, as is the impact of such work itself. While for many students a part-time job provides opportunities to gain relevant work experience or to save additional funds to broaden their future experience, for others who need to work to cover living costs, it can also have significant implications for their ability to engage in the value-added, self-directed elements of their studies and therefore, potentially, on their final outcomes.

List of all Publications

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Here is an up-to-date list of my publications. Please feel free to get in touch if you'd like to have a copy of the papers or the reports.

Journal Papers

  • JONES, S., HORDÓSY, R., MITTELMEIER, J., QUYOUM, A., & MCCALDIN, T. 2021. Possible Selves ’ in practice : how students at Further Education Colleges in England conceptualise university. Research Papers in Education, 1–16.

  • HORDÓSY, R., & SZANYI-F, E. 2020. Moving Through and Moving Away : (Higher) Education Strategies of Hungarian Students. Intersections - East European Journal of Society and Politics, 6(4), 34–62.

  • CLARK, T. & HORDÓSY, R. 2019. Undergraduate experiences of the research / teaching nexus across the whole student lifecycle. Teaching in Higher Education, 24(3), 412–427.

  • CLARK, T. & HORDÓSY, R. 2018. Social Identification, Widening Participation and Higher Education: Experiencing Similarity and Difference in an English Red Brick University. Sociological Research Online.

  • HORDÓSY, R & CLARK, T. 2018. Beyond the Compulsory: a Critical Exploration of the Experiences of Extracurricular Activity and Employability in a Northern Red Brick University. Research in Post-Compulsory Education.

  • HORDÓSY, R. & CLARK, T. 2018. ‘It’s Scary and It’s Big, and There’s No Job Security’: Undergraduate Experiences of Career Planning and Stratification in an English Red Brick University. Social Sciences. 7, 173.

  • HORDÓSY, R., CLARK, T., & VICKERS, D. 2018. Lower income students and the ‘double deficit’ of part-time work?: Undergraduate experiences of finance, studying, and employability. Journal of Education and Work. https://doi/full/10.1080/13639080.2018.1498068

  • HORDÓSY, R. & CLARK, T. 2018. Student budgets and widening participation: Comparative experiences of finance in low and higher income undergraduates at a Northern Red Brick University. Social Policy and Administration. 1–15.

  • CLARK, T., HORDÓSY, R. & VICKERS, D. 2017. ‘We will never escape these debts’: Undergraduate experiences of indebtedness, income-contingent loans, and the tuition fees rises. Journal of Further and Higher Education.

  • HORDÓSY, R. 2016. ‘Tracing’ Europeanisation: school leavers’ and graduates’ information systems as an example. Journal of Research in Comparative and International Education. 11, 135-147

  • HORDÓSY, R. 2016. How do different stakeholders utilise the same data? The case of school leavers’ and graduates’ information systems in three European countries. Journal of Research & Method in Education. 40, 403-420

  • CROCKFORD, J., HORDÓSY, R. & SIMMS, K.S. 2015. ‘I really needed a job, like, for money and stuff’: Student finance, part-time work and the student experience at a northern red-brick university. Journal of Widening Participation and Lifelong Learning. 17, 89-109.

  • HORDÓSY, R. 2014. Who knows what school leavers and graduates are doing? Comparing information systems within Europe. Comparative Education, 50, 448-473.

  • GORARD, S., HORDÓSY, R. & SEE, B. H. 2013a. Narrowing the determinants of segregation between schools 1996-2011. Journal of School Choice, 7, 182-195.

  • GORARD, S., HORDÓSY, R. & SIDDIQUI, N. 2013b. How Unstable are ‘School Effects’ Assessed by a Value-added Technique?. International Education Studies, 6, 1-9.

  • HORDÓSY, R., KIRÁLY, G & MÁRTONFI, GY. 2012. Intézményi és helyi pályakövetés a szakképzésben (Institutional and local school leavers’ tracking in vocational education). Új pedagógiai szemle (New pedagogical review), 62, 113-151.

  • HORDÓSY, R. & KIRÁLY, G. 2011. Pályakövetési tipológia (School leavers’ survey typology). Szakképzési Szemle (Vocational Training Review), 27, 65-79.

Book Chapters

  • HORDÓSY, R. 2018. Research case study: Longitudinal design in understanding the whole student lifecycle. In J. CROCKFORD, Z. BAKER, G. BROWN, R. HORDÓSY, S. LINSKILL, & M. MILLER (Eds.), Five Years of WPREU - Critical Reflections on Evaluation, Policy and Practice in Widening Participation and Student Success (pp. 89–99). Sheffield: WPREU - The University of Sheffield. (ISBN 978-1-5272-1734-8)

  • HORDÓSY, R. 2018. The changes in student budgets: results from the Sheffield Student 2013 longitudinal tracking project. In: ibid

  • HORDÓSY, R. 2012. Investigating school leaver’s surveys in Europe. In: ECCLESTONE, K. & CURRAN, S. (eds.) Papers from the School of Education Research Conference Saturday 19 November 2011: Curiosity-driven or improving policy and practice. What's the point of university research in an age of austerity? Birmingham: School of Education, UoB.

  • HORDÓSY, R., MEIXNER, B. & SZABÓ F.M. 2011. “Faluról falura tesszük odébb a problémát” – Újváros és térsége (‘We are pushing the problem from one village to the next’ – Newtown and its region). In: GYÖRGYI, Z. (eds.) Korlátok között szabadon. Demográfiai folyamatok és a helyi oktatáspolitikák. (Free between barriers. Demographic processes and local educational policies). Budapest: Oktatáskutató és Fejlesztő Intézet (HIERD). Pp 77-94. (ISBN 978-963-682-673-4)

  • HORDÓSY, R. & SZABÓ, F.M. 2011. Szent Jakab Általános Iskola, Nagyványod (Saint Jacob Elementary School, Nagyványod). In: IMRE, A. (eds.) Beiskolázás és továbbhaladás: szabályozás és megvalósulási utak. (School intake and progression: legislation and realisation of pathways). Budapest: OFI Intézet (HIERD). Pp 142-150. (ISBN 978-963-682-692-5)

  • DEMETER, E., GERŐ, M., HAJDU, G., HAJDU, T., HORDÓSY, R., LAKATOS, Z., LŐRINCZ, D. & SÁSKA, G. 2010. Tanulmány az iskolai agresszióval kapcsolatos felmérésekrol (Study on school aggression). In: AÁRY-TAMÁS, L. & ARONSON, J. (eds.) Iskolai veszélyek (Dangers in Schools). Budapest: Complex Kiado. (ISBN 978-963-295-089-1)

  • HORDÓSY, R. 2010. Miss Marple, a szomorúmanók és a szegénység. Avagy hogyan írt Solt Ottilia a szegénységről, mikor az nem is létezett? (Miss Marple, sad-goblins and poverty – How did Ottilia Solt write about the “non-existent poverty”?) In: DEMETER, E., DÖRGŐ, B., HAJDU, T., MEIXNER, B. & NAGY, J. P. (eds.) Kötetlen - Az ELTE Társadalomtudományi Szakkollégium tanulmánykötete. Budapest: ELTE Társadalomtudományi Szakkollégium. Pp 97-124. (ISSN 2061-7453)

  • HORDÓSY, R. 2008. Népi Kollégiumok Országos Szövetsége Pataki Ferenc A Nékosz-legenda cimű könyve alapján. (The National Association of Folk Colleges based on “The NÉKOSZ-legend” by Pataki Ferenc) In: GERŐ, M., HAJDU, G., MEIXNER, B., NAGY, J. P. & SZABÓ, F. (eds.) Kötetlen - Ötéves az ELTE Társadalomtudományi Szakkollégium. Budapest: ELTE Társadalomtudományi Szakkollégium. Pp. 29-44. (ISBN 978-963-463-990-9)

  • HORDÓSY, R. & MEIXNER, B. 2008: “Télapó itt van… - Ismeretelméletei fejtegetések a Mikulás jelenségérol” (Santa is here… - Using the science of knowledge to think about the Santa Claus phenomena) In: ibid. (ISBN 978-963-463-990-9)

  • ANTÓK, P., BAK, A., GYŐRI, L., HAJDU, G., HORDÓSY, R. & MIKOLAI, J. 2008. “Közönség és kultúrafogyasztás a Muvészetek Völgyében” (Audience and cultural consumption in the Valley of Arts) In: ibid. (ISBN 978-963-463-990-9)

  • ANTAL, T. & HORDÓSY, R. 2007: “Zsíroskenyér, pingpong és drogprevenció” (Bread and dripping, ping-pong and drog prevention) In: ADAMIK, M. (ed) Társadalmi Tanulmányok. Budapest: ELTE TáTK HÖK. Pp. 161-200

Working Papers

  • HORDÓSY, R. 2016. Finance report continued: Second year experiences and changes from first year. WPREU Report. Sheffield: TUoS Widening Participation Research and Evaluation Unit. Available:

  • HORDÓSY, R. 2015. Financing the First Year of University Education in 2013/2014, Main Findings. WPREU Report. Sheffield: TUoS Widening Participation Research and Evaluation Unit. Available:

  • CLARK, T., HORDÓSY, R., ANSELL, E. & DAVID, P. 2014. What Matters to First Year Undergraduate Students in the Post-2012 Era of Full Tuition Fees at a British university? WPREU Working Papers. Sheffield: TUoS Widening Participation Research and Evaluation Unit. Available:

Research Reports

  • HORDÓSY, R., MITTELMEIER, J., JONES, S., QUYOUM, A. & MCCALDIN, T. 2019. Exploring engagement with Greater Manchester Higher by Further Education College learners - Final report. Manchester: University of Manchester

  • HORDÓSY, R., & CLARK, T. 2018. Sheffield Student 2013 Longitudinal tracking project realities of the student experience. Sheffield: University of Sheffield, WPREU.

  • HORDÓSY, R. 2014. What do we know about what school leavers and graduates are doing?: A European perspective on data production and utilisation. PhD Thesis, University of Birmingham, UK. Available:

  • CZETŐ, K., FARKAS, A., HORDÓSY, R., MOLNÁR, B., OROSZ, K., SZEBÉNYI, S. & TAKÁCS, Á. 2010. Összefoglaló jelentés az oktatáskutatás főbb nemzetközi trendjeiről (Report on the main trends of educational research worldwide). Budapest: Oktatáskutató és Fejlesztő Intézet (HIERD). Available: