‘I'll play the game, but I cannot stay’ : The role of third space professionals in encouraging the retention, success and sense of belonging of undergraduate students

Julie Hughes, Debra Cureton, Jenni Jones


In 2019, a diverse, post-92, Midlands university implemented a new, hybrid third space role called the ‘academic coach’ (AC) to support its mission to make its educational provision fully accessible to all its students, to retain them and to ensure their success. Since a sense of belonging to their institution is such a powerful influence on students’ sense of wellbeing, their development of an academic identity and their resilience in the higher education context, with consequent positive impact upon their retention and success, this role is devoted to the pastoral care and personal tutoring of levels three and four students. This case study considers the journey of the AC in defining and shaping this new role and offers the ACs’ perceptions of their influence on the experience of students at levels three and four by enhancing collaborative and learning relationships within the wider university.


Third Space Professionals; Transitions; Level Three and Four Undergraduate; Retention; Success; Belonging

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.21100/compass.v14i3.1202


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