Registration is closed for this event

Please note that the original schedule for this event has been adjusted to make it suitable for an online format (details below).

Notwithstanding the expansion of doctoral study, it continues to operate as a classed pathway, a problem exacerbated by the surplus of doctoral graduates and an increasingly congested precarious global academic labour market. Although a prerequisite for academic careers, the doctorate no longer operates as a passport into the ivory tower. It is now accepted that the ‘leaky pipeline’ of academia, whereby ‘non-traditional’ bodies remain absent from professorial and higher managerial positions within UKHE, threatens the diversity of scholarship and leadership.

This event seeks to bring together those who identify as coming from a working-class background and who are currently working in higher-education or aspiring to do so. The event will be a supportive space to discuss the lived experience of being a working-class academic (aspiring to otherwise), the implications of a working-class background upon pedagogy alongside contemporary barriers to transitions to and through academia and so called ‘strategies for successes’.

In the first part of the session, we will hear from Dr Carli Rowell, who will present her key findings from her SRHE Newer Researcher Project ““No words, just two letters ‘Dr’”: Working-class early career researcher’s reflections on the transition to and through a social-sciences PhD and into academia” and implications for pedagogy, knowledge production and the future of academia (click here to read the SRHE project report). We will then hear from Dr Iona Burnell Reilly who will present on her forthcoming book The Lives of Working Class Academics: Getting Ideas Above Your Station (click here to view) followed by lightning talks from a selection of the book's contributing authors, providing insight into what it means to be in and do academia as a working-class academic.

In the second part of the event, we focus our attention upon creating a safe, supportive and collegial space whereby links and mentorship between junior and senior academics are fostered. Attendees will be invited into breakout groups where mentoring, guidance, problems, possibilities and importantly ‘strategies for success’ will be shared before coming to share key discussion points.

It is hoped that this event will serves as one of many more SRHE events that seek to bring together academics from working-class backgrounds. The event will be of interest to those from all levels of academia. Prior to the session, we will invite participants to share an introductory note about themselves via Padlet, to allow those attending to share any of their relevant materials, publications, and reseach pertaining to the themes of the event. 

Strikes and the event

The event is framed as break out space (like those that occur off campus during strikes). Throughout the event we will think through working-class academic experiences, and to importantly reflect on the strike issue as they impact on working-class academic's lives. You're also welcome to share your thoughts on this subject via the event Padlet (sent via e-mail).

Key themes, issues and discussion points will be written up in the form of a SRHE blog. Anyone interested in making their own contribution to the blog is very welcome to get in touch with the editor, Rob Cuthbert (


Further information

Thanks to Dr Carli Rowell for bringing this event together. If anyone interested in this session has questions or would like to get in touch with Carli, you are welcome to do so via e-mail ( or Twitter (@Carli Rowell).

Please, note, those wishing to attend for whom the fee might be a barrier please contact Sinéad Murphy


13:00 – 13:05    

Welcome & introductions

13:05 – 13:30

Carli Rowell: 'Working-Class and Working in Higher Education: Possibilities and Pedagogies' (agenda-setting for the event, presentation, and Q&A)

13:30 – 14:15

Iona Burnell Reilly: The lives of Working-Class Academics

Presentation talk by Iona Burnell Reilly (15 minutes) followed by 10-min lightning talks from three contributors to the book - Steve Wong, Teresa Crew, and Khalil Akbar -  attendees to pose questions in Zoom chat

14:15 – 14:25      

Gathering attendee questions from chat/Padlet, and comfort break

14:25 – 14:50

Group discussions (breakout rooms)

14:50 – 15:00

Reconvene for feedback and next steps

Facilitators & Speakers

Dr Carli Rowell is a Lecturer in Sociology at the University of Sussex and is passionate about inclusion inhigher education. Carli is a sociologist, feminist, and ethnographer and much of her work grapples with issues pertaining to contemporary social, spatial and geopolitical (im)mobilities particularly in relation to educational (in)equalities on a global, national and local level.

Dr Iona Burnell Reilly is a Senior Lecture in Sociology of Education at University of East London. Her academic interests are in the field of Sociology of Education where I have been lecturing, researching and supervising for many years. She recently joined the Teacher Education and Training team as Course Leader for the Post Graduate Certificate in Teaching and Learning in Higher Education. Her teaching experience and background is in Further Education, where she taught English Language (ESOL) and Access courses at an inner London college for 10 years before moving into Higher Education. She continues to supervise, examine, research, write and publish on topics related to the Sociology and Psychology of Education.

Dr Steve Wong is a Senior Lecturer in Education Studies at UEL and Lecturer in Applied and Sociolinguistics at UCL Institute of Education. He has also taught ESOL, EFL and EAP across a range of settings. His main research interests relate to the broad areas of language and social interaction with a specific focus on the effects of cultures of hybridity arising from the relationship between language(s), race and ethnicities in specific superdiverse localities and the resultant implications for educational policy and practice. He is also interested in the relationship between language and ethnicity, language in education and language and literacy. Informed by cross disciplinary insights from sociology, sociolinguistics, cultural studies, anthropology and diaspora studies, his work takes the linguistic ethnographic approach to researching language and urban ethnicities.  

Dr Teresa Crew is a Senior Lecturer in Social Policy at Bangor University and a Senior HEA Fellow. In 2020 she published a book on working-class academics entitled Higher Education and Working-Class Academics: Precarity and Diversity in Academia. Her research and teaching interests centre around the broad area of class and social inequalities.

Dr Khalil Akbar is a senior lecturer at the University of East London. He has completed a BA in Education Studies and an MA in Education (Leadership and Management). After completing teacher training, he has held a number of strategic and transformational roles as a primary school specialist. He has also been an Educational Advisor within the Independent sector. He is currently conducting his Doctorate on children's evolving understanding of British values.

February 1st, 2023 from  1:00 PM to  3:00 PM
Online event - link will be provided
Event Fee(s)
Event Fee(s)
Member Price £0.00
Guest Price £75.00
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