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Research into how students, doctoral students and employees in higher education experience their study and work environment, in terms of feeling a sense of belonging, is scarce. Therefore, we want to investigate these issues at our own university, University West, with the hope of being able to promote inclusive study and work environments.

Being included means feeling welcomed and respected and able to take a place in the community just as you are. Being excluded means not being able to take a place on the same terms as others. The degree to which a person feels included in a context can depend, for example, on the person’s gender, ethnic background, skin color, age, or disability.

Who feels “at home” and who feels uncomfortable in academic contexts? More knowledge is needed about how inclusion and exclusion work in order for higher education institutions to be able to live up to the laws, visions, and guidelines that exist in terms of justice, social sustainability, and democracy. Thus, these questions also concern the social and political conditions for both employees’ and students’ knowledge processes.

The purpose of the study

The purpose of this study is to deepen and develop knowledge processes of both employees and students about inequality within the academy, with a primary focus on ethnification/racialization within University West, but also how these categories can be related to other inequality patterns.

We intend to answer the following four questions:

  • To what extent do employees and students perceive themselves as included/excluded in relation to ethnicity/“race”, class, gender/gender identity, religion, age, sexuality, and disability?
  • What experiences and understandings of inclusion and exclusion processes do employees and students express?
  • In what contexts do employees and students perceive that inclusion/exclusion takes place?
  • How is ethnification/racialization perceived to interact with other social categorizations in relation to inclusion/exclusion?

Methods and research material

To gain a better understanding of these issues, we intend to collect material in different ways.

Participation is voluntary. No unauthorized persons will be given access to the material. In the analyses and presentations, no one else will be able to know who answered or wrote what. As researchers, we are interested in how inclusion and exclusion work and what the patterns look like.

Web survey

The survey examines inclusion and exclusion from an intersectional perspective. In this way, we find out what employees and students experience from inclusion and exclusion at University West.

We want as many people as possible to answer the survey. You can add important experiences of inclusion and exclusion that are important to us.

Here you can read about how the survey is conducted. 

The questionnaire will be emailed to all employees and students.

Interviews - with staff including doctoral students

Through interviews with employees we gain an in-depth understanding of how inclusion and exclusion processes work, and how employees experience them.

Here you can read about how the interviews are conducted. 

Stories - from students

Through stories from students, we gain an in-depth understanding of how inclusion and exclusion processes work, and how students experiences them.

Here you can read about how the stories are collected. 

Participation in the study may risk arousing unpleasant memories and feelings. If you require support after participating in the survey:

Employees at University West are offered conversational support by the Occupational Health Service Avonova. You can then contact Avonova in Trollhättan without having to speak to your boss or another person. Avonova is prepared for calls to come.

For students, Student Health at University West offers conversational support. Both Maria Blomqvist and Anette Ryckenberg at Student Health have been interviewed and prepared for conversations to take place. You can contact them via:


Research Area

  • Sociologi
  • Statsvetenskap
  • Studier om ett hållbart samhälle

Research environment / Institution

  • Övrig forskning
  • Institutionen för ekonomi och IT
  • Institutionen för hälsovetenskap
  • Institutionen för individ och samhälle

Project leader

Participants University West

Project time