Introduction: Universities and students in twentieth-century Britain and Ireland

Jodi Burkett*

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter (peer-reviewed)peer-review


    Over the course of the twentieth-century, students in Britain and Ireland underwent extensive changes in character and experience. Not only did the numbers of students in each country grow substantially, but the make-up of the student body changed dramatically. At the beginning of the twentieth century those attending institutions of further and higher education were almost exclusively male and represented the top 10% of the population. The subsequent increase in numbers, both of institutions and students, resulted from and created important changes in the character of institutions of higher and further education and their relationships with government and wider society. The nature and role of universities, and the students who attend them, also shifted dramatically throughout the twentieth century. This volume not only seeks to address the existing gap within the literature about students—including student experiences, student organisations, students’ connections to the wider community and aspects of student activism—but to change the tone and tenor of the discussion that exists in the literature about students. The overwhelming tone of the existing literature is one of regret, pessimism or nostalgia. It is underpinned by a persistent refrain that students, or young people more widely, are not what they used to be. The purpose is not to valorise students and student activities, but to reposition students as legitimate historical, and current, actors. This book focuses on students as people, not a homogenous group, who make clear and informed choices about their activities and who are part of the world in which they inhabit, not just the institution where they study.

    Original languageEnglish
    Title of host publicationStudents in Twentieth-Century Britain and Ireland
    EditorsJodi Burkett
    PublisherPalgrave Macmillan
    Number of pages12
    ISBN (Electronic)978-3-319-58241-2
    ISBN (Print)978-3-319-58240-5
    Publication statusPublished - 23 Sept 2017


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