‘How are you feeling?’: Postgraduate researchers’ contested experiences of well-being and mental health in a British university

‘How are you feeling?’: Postgraduate researchers’ contested experiences of well-being and mental health in a British university

Postgraduate research (PGR) students face unique well-being and mental health issues. Yet, universities in the United Kingdom are not adequately equipped to address them, tending instead to give disproportionate focus to the well-being and mental health of undergraduates. There is limited understanding of the factors impacting how PGR students in the UK experience and respond to study and life challenges and difficulties. The dearth of literature on PGR well-being and mental health is particularly noticeable among students from under-represented and disadvantaged backgrounds

This working paper draws from qualitative interviews with PGR students in a British university to address this crucial gap. It utilises an equality, diversity and inclusion approach with an intersectional lens to investigate the multi-level and dimensional factors shaping the well-being and mental health of the students. In particular, it lends attention to the lived experiences of PGR students with protected characteristics as defined by the UK Equality Act 2010.

It investigates their understandings of the meanings and causes of good and poor well-being and mental health. It discusses the contextual complexities of postgraduate research, supervisor-student dynamics and relationships of care and support affecting the PGR students. The research findings highlight gaps between institutional policies and practices in promoting equality, diversity and inclusion in relation to PGR well-being and mental health. The paper considers good practices that universities could follow in creating a caring, healthy and equitable postgraduate research experience for all.

About the presenter
Dr. I Lin Sin is Research Associate at the School of Arts and Cultures, Newcastle University upon- Tyne. She is currently analysing and writing up two research studies: Well-being in Contested Spaces (with Newcastle University) and Academic and Teacher Expatriates in Malaysia: Motivations, Representations, and Subjectivities (with Monash University Malaysia). Both projects reflect her research interests which are located at the intersection of higher education, social mobility and international migration. She has published numerous journal articles and book chapters on intersectionality, in/equality and in/exclusion in transnational spaces of education.

Zoom details: 
Meeting ID: 857 8740 9450
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Date & time

Mon 10 May 2021, 5–6pm


RSSS Building, Level 4, Room 4.66


I Lin Sin


Beck Pearse


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