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Harding Distinguished Postgraduate Scholars Programme


Mollie Baker

United Kingdom

Faculty of Education, Newnham College

PhD thesis: Testing the limits of imagination: What is and what could be for the structure of UK HE

Research interests
1. UK Higher Education
2. Social inequality
3. Creative methods
4. Poststructural feminism


My PhD is a multipronged project that seeks to challenge the status quo in Higher Education (HE) and HE research. By employing a combination of visual and written creative methods, the project explores how students from differently positioned universities regard the legitimacy of formal and informal university hierarchies, as well as the inequalities which arise from these structures, and how, if at all, the competitive structures of HE could, or should, change to become more socially just. My PhD thus provides insight on the limits of employing widening participation and access efforts in a highly stratified and competitive university system and, more broadly, how privilege and governmentality can curtail imagination and social change.


Who or what inspired you to pursue your research interests?

My research is inspired by both the difficulties I faced in accessing and achieving in Higher Education, as well as by the supervisors (Dr Richard Budd, Dr Emily Hart, Dr Esther van Ginneken) and academics (Dr Patti Lather, Prof Gerald Pillay, Prof St. Pierre, Prof Diane Reay) who knowingly and unknowingly gave me the confidence and desire to succeed. It is because of these individuals that I know that the way things are are not necessarily the way things should be.