Research Output
Belonging: Blurring the Boundaries
  This paper explores Whitchurch’s (2008) notion of the ‘third space’ in the context of articulating students from Further Education to Higher Education. This research appropriates the term ‘third space’ and applies it to the emergent territory occupied by college students ‘crossing the boundary’ to university. The concept of the ‘third space’ allows us to explore the notion of belonging in relation to direct entrants seeking to establish their role in the unfamiliar zone between college and university. Research examines the implications for college students of this ‘blurring of boundaries’ and how they establish a sense of belonging and creditability in the university context. Empirical research makes use of focus groups involving articulating students from Further Education directly into the third year of an adjacent degree course to determine if and why a ‘sense of belonging’ is important, what affect it has on performance, and to establish barriers to, and strategies for, successful boundary crossing from college to university. As Whitchurch highlighted secondment, mentoring and study leave as influential in the success of the unbounded professional, this paper proposes that interventions can be carried out to increase the sense of belonging and likely success of articulating students, notably, drop-in lectures, tutorial support (from HE academic staff), guest lectures and open days. This research is particularly relevant as the Scottish Government aims to remove barriers to widening access and participation in Higher Education. Research findings can inform best practice approach at universities, enhance the experience of articulating student, guide policy makers and aid knowledge transfer.

  • Date:

    31 December 2014

  • Publication Status:


  • Publisher

    International Academic Forum

  • Library of Congress:

    LB2300 Higher Education

  • Dewey Decimal Classification:

    378 Higher education


Meharg, D., & Craighill, S. (2014). Belonging: Blurring the Boundaries. In The European Conference on Education 2014: Official Conference Proceedings. , (79-90)



articulation; boundary crossing; college; third space; transition; university;

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