Wellbeing identity transitions and technology in higher education

The Surrey Wellbeing, Identity, Transition and Technology in Higher Education (WITT-HE) research group is an interdisciplinary and multidisciplinary group which aims to tackle inequalities faced by persons with a connection to higher education. The group investigates:

a) how well people live and function in higher education contexts;

b) how identities shape people’s higher education lives,

c) how people’s lives are shaped through transitioning into, within and out of higher education

d) how people’s lives are shaped by the use of technology or digital contexts in higher education.


The WITT-HE group is made up of academics, doctoral researchers, professional staff and students who intend to:

a) Contribute to the shaping of higher education and government policies for (marginalised) groups on issues such as well-being, finance, employment, study support, digital use and capabilities, and curricula.

b) Raise awareness on under-explored issues that affect students and academics transitions into, within and out of universities that may be based on their identities

c) Contribute to our understanding of how higher education and the wider societal environment affect the well-being of academics, students and professional staff

Within WITT-HE, we define our four concepts as follows:

Wellbeing: a multi-dimensional construct which relates to how well a person lives and functions in their life. Hence, well-being in our research encompasses for example financial, mental and occupational aspects

Identity: a multi-dimensional construct related to how people view themselves and the social groups they belong. Identity hence encompasses both personal and professional identities, such as gender, political, academic and ethnic.

Transitions: a concept that represents the physical aspect of how a person moves into, within and out of higher education as well as the metaphysical aspect of how people's views change within or towards higher education.

Technology: a concept that represents the digital technologies and contexts that a person works or studies within


Research Topics

Our research covers areas such as:

  • Transition of migrant academics to teaching in different countries
  • Students’ well-being in different higher education environments
  • Leadership identity journeys of academics
  • Video gaming behaviour of teenage girls and its relationship to their degree selection
  • Physics identity of Black girls in higher education
  • Doctoral students’ identities as teachers
  • Black British students' learning experiences and their relationship to ‘awarding gaps’
  • Racially minoritised students’ sense of belonging and experiences of HE curricula
  • Investigating the relationship between digital technologies, pedagogies, design and learning spaces
  • Educators, students and professional staff digital capabilities development
  • Digital and postdigital learning environments


Research Methodologies

The group uses a variety of new and established methodologies and methods including:

  • Longitudinal secondary data analysis
  • Autoethnographies and Personal Narratives
  • Visual Ethnography
  • Quasi-experimental designs
  • Observations
  • Interviews


Recent publications

  • Hosein, A., Balloo, K., Byrom, N., & Essau, C. A. (2023). The role of the university environment in shaping education and employment inequalities. Journal of Higher Education Policy and Management, 1-20. https://doi.org/10.1080/1360080X.2023.2180170
  • Hosein, A., Rao, N. and Kinchin, I. (eds) (2023). Narratives of Becoming Leaders in Disciplinary and Institutional Contexts: Leadership Identity in Learning and Teaching in Higher Education. United Kingdom: Bloomsbury Publishing.
  • Rao, N., Hosein, A. and Kinchin, I. (eds) (2023). Narratives of Academics’ Personal Journeys in Contested Spaces: Leadership Identity in Learning and Teaching in Higher Education. United Kingdom: Bloomsbury Publishing.
  • Lang, J., Rao, N., & Hosein, A. (Eds.). (2023). Perspectives on Teaching and Learning Leadership in Higher Education: Case Studies from UK and Australia. Taylor & Francis.
  • Kinchin, I., Balloo, K., Barnett, L., Gravett, K., Heron, M., Hosein, A., ... & Yakovchuk, N. (2023). Poems and pedagogic frailty: uncovering the affective within teacher development through collective biography. Arts and Humanities in Higher Education, https://doi.org/10.1177/14740222221147483
  • Balloo, K., Hosein, A., Byrom, N., & Essau, C. A. (2022). Differences in mental health inequalities based on university attendance: Intersectional multilevel analyses of individual heterogeneity and discriminatory accuracy. SSM-Population Health, 19, 101149. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ssmph.2022.101149
  • Wallinheimo, A. S., Hosein, A., Barrie, D., Chernyavskiy, A., Agafonova, I., & Williams, P. (2022). How Online Gaming Could Enhance Your Career Prospects. Simulation & Gaming, https://doi.org/10.1177/10468781221137 
  • Omaish, H. A., Hosein, A., Abdullah, M. U., & Aldershewi, A. (2021). University lecturer's perceptions on the causes of students’ mathematical knowledge gaps in conflict zones. International Journal of Educational Research Open, 2, 100095.
  • Rao, N., Hosein, A., & Raaper, R. (2021). Doctoral students navigating the borderlands of academic teaching in an era of precarity. Teaching in Higher Education, 1-17.


Current and Recent Research

  • 2023-present: Exploring awarding gaps for British Black students at university through participatory visual ethnography (SRHE funded)
  • 2023-present: Raising racial and ethnic representation within performing arts training: evaluating the effectiveness of implementing an Inclusive Curriculum Framework (SEDA funded)
  • 2023-present: Conceptualising and envisioning the ‘sustainable teacher’ within the postdigital university (SRHE funded)
  • 2020-2024: Narratives of leadership journeys of academic teachers – partner with Liverpool Hope University and University of Melbourne
  • 2022-2023: Supporting Mental Health Researchers in Discovering Active Ingredients in Longitudinal Datasets using Artificial Intelligence (Wellcome Trust)
  • 2020-2022: A multi-perspective analysis of university students' personal mental health and well-being capital and its effect on their life outcomes (ESRC-funded)



SRHE, SEDA, ESRC, Wellcome, British Academy