Constructing and protecting identity in a diverse higher education context

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


UK higher education (HE) has become increasingly diverse. Despite the clear social, economic and pedagogical benefits of diversity, it can also be challenging for identity as it may bring about psychological change and compel both the ‘dominant majority’ and ‘minorities’ to adjust to the presence, identities and worldviews of the other. Drawing upon Identity Process Theory from social psychology, the present article explores the potential challenges to identity in a diverse HE context and how students may subsequently cope with these challenges. After a brief overview of Identity Process Theory, two case studies are presented that focus on how social class and ethnic/religious diversity can impact identity. The more general aim of this article is to develop the basic tools for enhancing students’ learning experience in a diverse HE context. It is suggested that HE institutions need to support students from diverse backgrounds in ways that are conducive to a positive identity, and that they must facilitate a shared superordinate identity which can be viewed as inclusive and available to all, regardless of class, ethnicity, religion or any other identity.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)127-134
JournalPerspectives: Policy and Practice in Higher Education
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2 Sept 2015


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