Students’ sense of belonging and their socio-economic status in higher education: a quantitative approach

Ahn, Mi Young and Davis, Howard H.. 2023. Students’ sense of belonging and their socio-economic status in higher education: a quantitative approach. Teaching in Higher Education, 28(1), pp. 136-149. ISSN 1356-2517 [Article]

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Abstract or Description

This study aims to explore the main aspects of sense of belonging, including academic and social engagement, life satisfaction, thoughts of leaving university, demographic characteristics and socio-economic status by applying quantitative measurement. Having considered the concepts of disadvantaged or non-traditional groups deployed in previous studies, a survey questionnaire was designed to investigate how certain factors are related to students’ belonging. Statistical analysis of data from 380 participants reveals that students’ sense of belonging and retention are crucially influenced by both academic engagement and social engagement, but independently. This study also addresses a lack of research about how the critical factors for disadvantage operate to determine belonging and retention in higher education. The findings should prompt a re-evaluation what we consider to be the sources of ‘disadvantage’, such as social class, age and ethnicity.

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"This is an Accepted Manuscript of an article published by Taylor & Francis in Teaching in Higher Education on 16 June 2020, available at: It is deposited under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial License (, which permits non-commercial re-use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited."

Student’s Sense of Belonging to Bangor University in 2014 was financially supported by Bangor University’s Widening Access Fund (2013–2014).


sense of belonging; engagement; higher education; questionnaire; disadvantage; retention

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2 June 2020Accepted
16 June 2020Published Online

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Date Deposited:

05 Jun 2024 09:44

Last Modified:

05 Jun 2024 14:15

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Yes, this version has been peer-reviewed.


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