Representation and Sense of Belonging for People of the Global Majority in Higher Education



This paper explores student perceptions of culture, representation, and barriers to success in higher education (HE) for People of the Global Majority (PGM). Many students who are People of the Global Majority in the context of UK higher education experience a variety of challenges while studying. One such challenge concerns culture and representations of culture and ethnicity. Whereas many studies investigate the experience of PGM students and frame that through Critical Race Theory (CRT), more empirical studies are needed to explore these experiences with regard to culture and representations of culture and ethnicity at personal and institutional/ structural levels and how these link to multiple areas of student success, particularly awards and different elements of the curriculum such as learning and teaching approaches. This study addresses this gap and provides empirical results through the data collected via a survey method, which is also an underutilized method to map the feelings and perceptions of a large student cohort (N=441 – number of survey participants), with participants from a large Post-1992 university.

An earlier unpublished study showed that students felt that an understanding of and shared experiences of ethnicity and the associated cultural heritage impacted their experiences in higher education, and this research explores this more deeply. Whilst this full research project covered representation of culture in the curriculum; cultural sensitivity in learning environments; the impact of culture and student backgrounds on higher education study; experiences of different teaching methods; and prior educational experiences, this paper focuses more specifically on representation and sense of belonging for PGM students at one institution.

Key words: representation; sense of belonging; PGM; People of the Global Majority; BAME; culture


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Author Biography

Fiona Cook, University of Portsmouth

I am a Research Associate in the Department for Curriculum and Quality Enhancement at the University of Portsmouth

My work focuses on Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion; student experience; and student voice.

I also work on external surveys, most notably the NSS, PRES, MPRES, and PTES.

Prior to joining the University of Portsmouth I worked for UPSU in roles that included insights, representation, and quality assurance. I have also previously worked in FE.


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How to Cite

Cook, F. (2024). Representation and Sense of Belonging for People of the Global Majority in Higher Education. Student Engagement in Higher Education Journal, 5(2), 111–128. Retrieved from