Professor Rachel Brooks

Professor of Sociology
+44 (0)1483 686987
25 AD 03
Office hours by appointment - please email

Academic and research departments

Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, Department of Sociology.


Areas of specialism

sociology of education (particularly higher education); international student mobility; comparative education; youth studies; sociology of the family

My qualifications

BA in Modern History
University of Oxford
MA in Educational Studies (by research)
University of York
PhD in Sociology
University of Southampton

Affiliations and memberships

British Journal of Sociology of Education
Executive editor
Journal of Youth Studies and Sociological Research Online
Editorial board member
ESRC's Peer Review College
Society for Research into Higher Education
Member of Governing Council


Research interests

Research projects


Postgraduate research supervision

My teaching

My publications


In today?s modern climate, education and learning take place in multiple and diverse spaces. Increasingly, these spaces are both physical and virtual in nature. Access to and use of information and communication technologies, and the emergence of knowledge-based economies necessitate an understanding of the plurality of spaces (such as homes, workplaces, international space and cyberspace) in which learning can take place. The spaces of policy making with respect to education are also being transformed, away from traditional centres of policy formation towards the incorporation of a wider range of actors and sites. These changes coincide with a more general interest in space and spatial theory across the social sciences, where notions of simultaneity and diversity replace more modernist conceptions of linear progress and development through time.

This volume proffers a unique perspective on the transformation of education in the 21st century, by bringing together leading researchers in education, sociology and geography to address directly questions of space in relation to education and learning. This collection of essays:

"examines the changing and diverse spaces and concepts of education (occurring simultaneously at different scales and in different parts of the world)

"explores where education and learning take place

"discusses how spaces of education vary at different stages (compulsory schooling, tertiary and higher education, adult education and workplace learning)

"inspects the ways in which the meanings attached to education and learning change in different national and regional contexts.

Changing Spaces of Education is an important and timely contribution to a growing area of concern within the social sciences and amongst practitioners and policy-makers, reflecting an urgent need to understand the ways in which both education and learning are being reconfigured, not just nationally, but also internationally and transnationally. It is essential reading for final-year undergraduates, postgraduates and researchers in geography, sociology, education and policy studies, with an aim, too, of informing policy and practice in this area.

Brooks R (2009) Transitions from Education to Work: an introduction, In: Brooks R (eds.), Transitions from Education to Work: New Perspectives from Europe and Beyond Palgrave
Brooks R, Hodkinson P (2008) Young People, New Technologies and Political Engagement: Introduction,Journal of Youth Studies 11 (5) pp. 473-479 Taylor & Francis
Brooks R, Waters J, Pimlott-Wilson H (2012) International education and the employability of UK students,British Educational Research Journal 38 (2) pp. 281-298 Taylor & Francis
A common theme within the literature on higher education is the congested nature of the graduate labour market. Researchers have highlighted the lengths to which many students now go, in response to this congestion, to ?distinguish themselves? from other graduates: paying increased attention to university status; engaging in a range of extra-curricular activities; and pursuing postgraduate qualifications. Studies that have focused on the strategies of Asian students, specifically, have pointed to the important place of studying abroad as a further strategy in this pursuit of distinction. Given that there is now some evidence that the number of UK students enrolling on a degree programme overseas is increasing, this article explores the extent to which an overseas education can be seen as part of a broader strategy on the part of British students to seek distinction within the labour market and whether such an education does indeed offer tangible employment benefits.
Brooks R, Everett G (2008) New European Learners? An analysis of the 'trendsetter' thesis,Journal of Youth Studies 11 (4) pp. 377-391 Taylor & Francis
This paper draws on life history interviews with young adults in the UK to consider
Manuela du Bois-Reymond?s claims about the increasing prevalence of ?trendsetter
learners? across Europe. Du Bois-Reymond has argued that certain groups of young
adults are at the forefront of developing new forms of learning in response to what they
perceive to be the failings of formal education namely the disjuncture between theory
and practice within the education that they are offered and a lack of respect from many
of the teachers with whom they come into contact. These young adults, she contends, are
the ?trendsetter learners?, creating youth cultural capital that helps them to realise selfdetermined
ways of living and learning. In considering some of these claims, this paper
draws on data from the ?Young Graduates and Lifelong Learning? project funded by the
UK?s Economic and Social Research Council. Between September 2005 and January
2006, 90 in-depth life history interviews were conducted with graduates from six higher
education institutions. Our findings suggest that the degree of autonomy, freedom and
creativity in young people?s patterns of learning that underpin du Bois-Reymond?s
analysis is over-stated. We argue that, while du Bois-Reymond?s work makes an
important contribution to conceptualising the ways in which young Europeans engage
with learning, her dichotomy between ?trendsetter? learners and their ?disengaged?
counterparts overlooks: complexities inherent in this relationship, the social status
attached to particular forms of more traditional education and training, and the
structuring nature of much workplace learning.
Brooks R (2003) Mixed-age learning,
Brooks R (2004) My mum would be pleased as punch if I went, my dad seems more particular about it': paternal involvement in young people's higher education choices, British Educational Research Journal 30 (4) pp. 495-514 Wiley
Brooks R (2012) Young People, Education and Inequalities: An Introduction,SOCIOLOGICAL RESEARCH ONLINE 17 (3) ARTN 9 SAGE PUBLICATIONS LTD
Brooks R, Everett G (2008) The prevalence of 'life planning': evidence from UK graduates,British Journal of Sociology of Education 29 (3) pp. 325-337 Taylor & Francis
At a time when ?personal development planning? is being rolled out across the UK higher
education sector, this paper explores young adults? inclinations to plan for the future in
relation to work, relationships and other aspects of life. Although Giddens has emphasised the
prevalence of strategic life planning (or the ?colonisation of the future?) in all strata of
contemporary society, du Bois Reymond has argued that there are important differences by
social class, with young people from more privileged backgrounds more likely than their
peers to engage in such life-planning activities. This paper draws on interviews with 90 young
adults (in their mid-20s) to question some of these assumptions about relationships between
social location and propensity to plan for the future. It shows how, within this sample at least,
there was a strong association between having had a privileged ?learning career? (such as
attending a high-status university and identifying as an ?academic high flier?) and a
disinclination to form detailed plans for the future. In part, this appeared to be related to a
strong sense of ontological security and the confidence to resist what Giddens terms ?an
increasingly dominant temporal outlook?.
Brooks R (2005) The Construction of 'age difference' and the impact of age-mixing within UK further education colleges, British Journal of Sociology of Education 26 (1) pp. 55-70 Taylor & Francis
?Age? is an important social category used to define individuals and groups within our society and, often, to structure access to power, prestige and status. However, within educational research, age has been relatively neglected when compared with other social categories such as gender, class and ethnicity. In an attempt to begin to explore the impact of age within schools and colleges, this paper focuses on students' and teachers' experience of mixed?age learning groups within the UK further education sector. First, the paper outlines various assumptions about the distinctiveness of age groups that underpin much sociological theorizing as well as current educational policy within the United Kingdom. It then draws on an empirical study of six further education colleges in Yorkshire and the south?east of England to suggest that the ways in which students and members of staff construct notions of ?age? and ?age difference? bear little resemblance to the models adopted by policymakers. Nevertheless, the paper goes on to argue that, although there was little consensus about where the boundary between ?younger? and ?older? learners should be drawn, most respondents were able to identify specific age?related differences that they believed affected the process of learning. In particular, mixed?age classes were believed to offer considerable advantages over more age?homogeneous groups. The final part of the paper explores some of these putative advantages and discusses their significance in the light of current debates about the ?postponement? of adulthood and the nature of inter?generational relationships.
Brooks R (2006) Young graduates and lifelong learning: The impact of institutional stratification, Sociology 40 (6) pp. 1019-1037
The National Adult Learning Survey and the 1970 British Cohort Study have pointed to considerable differences by level of educational qualification in attitude to and participation in adult or 'lifelong' learning.They suggest that graduates are more likely than other groups to engage in adult learning, generally, and to be motivated to do so by the intrinsic interest of the subject matter. However, exploring the wider meaning attached to participation in such activities has been outside the remit of these studies. In an attempt to redress this gap, this article draws on life history interviews with recent graduates to consider the significance they attribute to taking part in lifelong learning. In particular, it focuses on the extent to which decisions about education and training after graduation can be seen as consonant with 'individualized' life plans, and the degree of similarity between these decisions and previous processes of 'educational choice'. Copyright © 2006 BSA Publications Ltd®.
Brooks R (2007) Young people's extra-curricular activities: Critical social engagement - Or 'something for the CV', Journal of Social Policy 36 (3) pp. 417-434 Cambridge University Press
The government has argued in various arenas that 'active citizenship' is one way in which young people can be effectively re-engaged with their communities, and with the political process more broadly. As part of this analysis, it has placed particular emphasis on the potential contribution of youth volunteering. However, many researchers have argued that such initiatives are essentially conservative, placing emphasis firstly on the skills and competences necessary to make a contribution to the economy rather than more innovative understandings of citizenship, and secondly on the importance of active community participation rather than an understanding of welfare rights and social citizenship. In engaging with this debate, this article draws on a study Of 21 young people (aged between 16 and 18) involved in a range of different voluntary, peer-driven and socially focused extra-curricular groups in sixth-form colleges. It argues that, for the young people involved in this study, the effects of becoming involved were complex, multidirectional and, in some cases, apparently contradictory. While in some ways the activities appeared to serve essentially conservative functions (for example, by developing sympathy for those in positions of power), in other respects they engendered a much more critical stance to some aspects of the young people's worlds.
Brooks R, Waters J (2009) A second chance at 'success': UK students and global circuits of higher education,Sociology 43 (6) pp. 1085-1102 Sage Publications Ltd
While the literature on highly skilled international migration has grown substantially over recent years, the motivations and experiences of an important sub-group ? the internationally mobile student ? have remained under-researched. In an attempt to redress this gap, this article draws on in-depth interviews with 85 young adults, to explore the choices and motivations of UK students who choose to study abroad for the whole of an undergraduate or postgraduate degree. While studies of east to west migration have typically emphasised the importance of an international higher education as a high-prestige, first choice option for those students who can afford it, we argue that, for UK students, choices are configured differently. For many of our respondents, overseas education offered primarily a ?second chance? at accessing elite education.

There is an erratum for this article at:

Brooks R (2009) Young people and UK citizenship education: A gender analysis, Young 17 (3) pp. 307-326
Brooks R, Waters J (2010) Social networks and educational mobility: The experiences of UK students,Globalisation, Societies and Education 8 (1) pp. 143-157 Taylor and Francis
A recurrent theme in the literature on transnational mobility ? and particularly that pertaining to the young and/or highly skilled ? is the individualised nature of such movement, as people move to take advantage of opportunities in an increasingly interdependent world. Drawing on research with 85 young adults who had moved overseas for their higher education, or were seriously contemplating doing so, this paper subjects this claim to critical scrutiny. Indeed, it suggests that while internationally mobile students are clearly only a subset of the broader category of transnational migrants, they nevertheless demonstrate important ways in which mobility is often socially?embedded, grounded within networks of both family and friends. It then points to the socially reproductive nature of such ties, and discusses their implications for the development of ?mobility capital?.
Brooks RM, Byford K, Sela K (2014) The Changing Nature of Student Leadership and its Impact on 'The Student Experience', Unpublished report for the National Union of Students and the Leadership Foundation for Higher Education
Brooks R, Byford K, Sela K (2015) Inequalities in students? union leadership: the role of social networks, Journal of Youth Studies 18 (9) pp. 1204-1218
© 2015 Taylor & Francis.Drawing on a national survey of students? union officers and staff, and a series of 24 focus groups involving both union officers and institutional senior managers, this article explores the characteristics of those who take up leadership roles in their (higher education) students? union. We show that, in several areas ? and particularly in relation to gender, ethnicity and age ? union leaders do not represent well the diversity of the wider student body. In explaining these inequalities, we argue that friendship groups and other peer networks play a significant role in determining who does and does not take up leadership positions. Moreover, as friendship groups are often formed on the basis of ?differential association? and are thus frequently socially homogenous, inequalities tend to be perpetuated. Wider institutional cultures and societal norms are also implicated.
Brooks R, Everett G (2008) The predominance of work-based training in young graduates' learning,Journal of Education and Work 21 (1) pp. 61-73 Taylor & Francis
This article draws upon results from an ESRC?funded research project exploring young graduates? attitudes to, and experiences of, further education or learning postgraduation. Respondents? narratives indicated a strong emphasis upon job?based learning, or training, over and above an oft?stated desire to do further study ?for its own sake?. Whilst the majority of graduates expressed contentment with their work?leisure?education balance, a significant number also marked up a desire for ?leisure?learning? which was not ?yet? possible due to the demands of work and work?based training. This prompts questions about how we, and the graduates, conceptualise the ?use? of having a degree in an era of higher education massification, exploring issues of ?generic? skills and personal growth. It also raises questions about the role and function of wider ?lifelong learning? practices for those in their twenties, as well as the status of the work?leisure?education balance of young professionals, and whether this encourages or discourages efforts to develop a ?learning society?.
Brooks RM, Byford K, Sela K (2015) The Changing Role of Students? Unions within Contemporary Higher Education,Journal of Education Policy 30 (2) pp. 165-181
Despite profound changes to the higher education sector in the UK over recent years, which have tended to emphasise the role of prospective students as active choosers within a marketplace and encourage higher education institutions (HEIs) to place more emphasis on student engagement and representation as a means of improving the quality of the learning experience, the role of students' unions has remained largely unexplored. To start to redress this gap, this paper draws on a UK-wide survey of students' union officers and a series of focus groups with 86 students and higher education staff in 10 case study institutions. It outlines the ways in which students' unions are believed, by those closely involved with them, to have changed over recent years, focusing on: the shift towards a much greater emphasis on representation in the role and function of the students' union; the increasing importance of non-elected officers; and the emergence of more cooperative relationships between the students' union and senior institutional management. The article then discusses the implications of these findings for both our understanding of the political engagement of students, and theorising student involvement in the governance of HEIs
Brooks RM, Waters J (2008) International Higher Education and the Mobility of UK Students. End-of-award report to the British Academy,
Brooks RM (2012) What have we learned to date to inform access, retention and success under the new funding regime in England? A literature syntheses of the Widening Access, Student Retention and Success National Programmes Archive, Higher Education Academy
Brooks R, Fuller A, Waters J (2012) Changing Spaces of Education: an introduction, In: Brooks R, Fuller A, Waters J (eds.), Changing Spaces of Education: New Perspectives on the Nature of Learning pp. 1-18 Routledge
Brooks R, Waters J (2013) 'Global graduates', student mobility and the funding of higher education, In: Heller D, Callender C (eds.), Student Financing of Higher Education: a comparative perspective Routledge
Heath S, Brooks R, Cleaver E, Ireland E (2009) Researching Young People's Lives, Sage Publications Ltd
Researching Young People's Lives provides an overview of some of the key methodological challenges facing youth researchers and an introduction to the broad repertoire of methods used in youth-orientated research.

The book is split into two sections. In the first half of the book, the authors consider the broad methodological and contextual concerns of relevance to the design and conduct of youth research, including ethical issues, the importance of context, and the rise of participatory approaches to youth research. The second part of the book focuses on the use of specific research methods in the conduct of youth research, ranging from surveys and secondary analysis through to interviewing, ethnography, visual methods, and the use of the internet in youth research. Throughout the book, the emphasis is on research in practice, and examples are drawn from recent youth research projects from a wide range of disciplines and substantive areas, and from a range of both UK and non-UK contexts.

This is an ideal introduction to the field for novice researchers, in particular students studying and researching in the broad area of youth studies. It should also appeal to practitioners engaged in evaluation of service provision to young people, and to established youth researchers who might wish to explore the potential of using a different set of methods to those with which they are already familiar.

Brooks R (2012) Student-parents and higher education: a cross-national comparison,Journal of Education Policy 27 (3) pp. 423-439 Taylor & Francis
During its time in office, the UK?s Labour government gave a strong message that having caring responsibilities for a young child should not be seen as a barrier to engaging in education and training. Its widening participation strategy included a specific commitment to increasing the number of mature students in higher education (HE) ? students who are more likely than their younger peers to have caring responsibilities for dependent children. Furthermore, considerable resources were devoted to encouraging teenage mothers to return to education and training soon after the birth of their child. Nevertheless, despite this policy focus, there have been relatively few studies of the experiences of ?student-parents? within HE. This paper draws on findings from a cross-national study (funded by the Nuffield Foundation) to explore the support currently offered by UK universities to students who have parental responsibilities for one or more children under the age of 16. It compares this support to that offered by Danish institutions, to assess whether differences in ?welfare regime?, the structure of the HE system and pervasive assumptions about gender relations have any discernible impact on the way in which student-parents are both constructed within institutional cultures and assisted by institutional practices.
Brooks R (2007) Transitions from education to work in the twenty-first century,International Journal of Lifelong Education (Special issue: Transitions from Education to Work) 26 (5)
Brooks RM, Waters JL (2015) The boundaries of privilege: elite English schools? geographies and
depictions of a local community,
In: van Zanten A, Ball S, Darchy-Koechlin B (eds.), Elites, Privilege and Excellence: the national and global redefinition of educational advantage
Te Riele K, Brooks R (2012) Making ethical deliberations public: Some provisional resources for youth research ethics,Youth Studies Australia 31 (3) pp. 11-16 Australian Clearinghouse for Youth Studies
The focus of this special edition of Youth Studies Australia is on questions, issues, challenges and (tentative) solutions in relation to ensuring that research with young people is conducted ethically. This introductory paper by the guest editors of this edition draws on ethical principles as outlined in the National Statement on Ethical Conduct in Research Involving Humans and in the Fairbridge Code of Ethics for youth work. The authors explain how these principles can inform ethical youth research. In the process, they weave through comments to and from the remaining five papers, providing an authentic touchstone for the principles, as well as recommending the papers to you.
Brooks RM (2015) International students with dependent children: the reproduction of gender norms, British Journal of Sociology of Education 36 (2) pp. 195-214
Brooks RM (2014) Transition from School to Work, In: Ballantine J, Spade J (eds.), Schools and Society: A Sociological Approach to Education Sage
Brooks R, Waters J (2009) International higher education and the mobility of UK students,Journal of Research in International Education 8 (2) pp. 191-209 Sage
In the context of increasing academic interest in the internationalization of education and the international mobility of university students, this article draws on findings of a recent research project examining students from the UK as they seek higher education overseas before entering the labour market. The discussion is framed around four key themes (the importance of `second chances'; `global circuits of higher education'; `experiences of travel' and `labour market outcomes'), which address the motivations and experiences of 85 individuals who are seriously considering or have recently obtained an international degree.
Brooks RM, Byford K, Sela K (2015) The Spaces of UK Students' Unions: extending the critical geographies of the university campus,Social and Cultural Geography 17 (4) pp. 471-490 Taylor & Francis
This article seeks to further our knowledge of the university campus by focussing on one particular aspect of most UK campuses: the students? union. UK students? unions have rarely been the subject of scholarly attention, despite them now occupying an important place within the higher education landscape. Nevertheless, in this paper we draw on a UK-wide study of students? unions to explore, firstly, the role played by the buildings of the students? union and, secondly, the ways in which aspects of the university?s campus influence union activity. We pay particular attention to the expansion of the university campus, in many institutions, from a single site to multiple sites, both within the UK and overseas. We contend that a focus on the materiality of the students? union and the level of union activity (or inactivity) across various campus spaces can illustrate the values, ideologies and power relations that dominate contemporary British higher education.
Brooks RM (2016) Cultural Capital, Social Class and Higher Education,In: Shin JC, Teixeira P (eds.), Encyclopedia of International Higher Education Systems and Institutions Springer Netherlands
Over recent decades, the number of young people benefitting from higher education has increased considerably as the sector has expanded and ?massified?. However, despite this shift, there remain ? in many countries across the world ? significant differences by social class in access to higher education. For example, of younger adults (i.e. those under 35), OECD data show that 23 per cent of those whose parents did not attain upper secondary education attained tertiary education themselves, compared with 65 per cent of their counterparts whose parents had also attained tertiary education (OECD, 2015). Furthermore, students from more advantaged backgrounds also more likely that their less advantaged peers to gain access to the most prestigious institutions (Boliver, 2013). Differences, by social class, have also been widely documented in relation to students? experiences of higher education, and their transitions from higher education into employment.
Brooks RM, Waters J, Fuller A, Holford J (2009) New Spaces of Education: the changing nature of learning in the 21st century. End-of-award report for the ESRC,
Brooks R (2012) Student-parents and higher education: a cross-national comparison. End-of-award report for the Nuffield Foundation,
Brooks R (2013) The social construction of young people within education policy: evidence from the UK's Coalition government,Journal of Youth Studies 16 (3) pp. 318-333 Routledge, Taylor & Francis
Since assuming power in May 2010, the UK's Coalition government has devoted considerable energy to formulating its policies with respect to young people. Evidence of this can be found in Positive for youth: a new approach to cross-government policy for young people aged 13?19, a policy text that outlines a wide range of measures to be implemented across nine government departments. Nevertheless, we know little about the understandings of young people that underpin Coalition policy or the political ideology that informs them. This article starts to redress this gap by exploring the ways in which young people have been constructed within education policy, specifically, and the extent to which such constructions constitute continuity or change with the understandings of previous governments. It argues that while some constructions of young people can be seen primarily as an extension of New Labour understandings, other constructions should be more accurately viewed as reconfigurations or, in some cases, as new understandings, initiated by the Coalition government.
Brooks R (2002) The individual and the institutional: balancing professional development needs within further education,In: Cullingford C (eds.), Continuing Professional Development and Institutional Needs Ashgate
Brooks R (2003) Young people?s higher education choices: the role of family and friends, British Journal of Sociology of Education. 24 (3) pp. 283-297 Taylor & Francis
Previous studies of higher education (HE) choice have tended to draw a strong contrast between the decisions made by young people from working-class backgrounds and those of their middle-class peers. This paper draws on a qualitative, longitudinal study to argue that such assumptions about social class homogeneity overlook the very different ways in which students from a similar (middle class) location come to understand the HE sector. It also suggests that while families have a strong influence on young people's conceptualisation of the sector, friends and peers play an important role in informing decisions about what constitutes a 'feasible' choice. Indeed, this paper shows how rankings within friendship groups were, in many cases, transposed directly onto a hierarchy of HE institutions and courses. On the basis of this evidence, it concludes that a two-step interaction between family and friends best explains the decision-making processes in which these young people were engaged.
Brooks R (2002) Transitional friends? Young people?s strategies to manage and maintain their friendships during a period of repositioning, Journal of Youth Studies 5 (4) pp. 449-467
Brooks R, Waters J (2011) Fees, funding and overseas study: mobile UK students and educational inequalities,Sociological Research Online 16 (2) Sage Publications Ltd
An article in The Guardian in 2006 claimed that: 'some bright students have found an answer to the fees nightmare: in Europe'. It went on to argue that the introduction of variable fees in the UK in 2006 had encouraged some UK students to consider moving overseas for their degrees and, in particular, to European countries such as Sweden and the Netherlands, which charged low fees or no fees at all. While there have been a small number of further press reports which have indicated that changes to the funding of higher education in the UK have encouraged more young people to consider seriously the possibility of studying abroad, we still know relatively little about the impact of financial factors on a decision to pursue a degree overseas. Although many researchers have explored the economic rewards which often accrue in the medium- or long-term as a result of overseas study, the academic literature has much less to say about both the impact of fee differentials on young people's decision-making, and the resources upon which they draw to fund a period of study overseas. In an attempt to redress this gap, this paper draws on data from a qualitative study of young UK citizens who had either completed a degree abroad, or were seriously considering moving overseas for this purpose, to explore the impact of short-term economic calculations on their decisions, and the sources of funding upon which they drew. In doing so, we argue, firstly, that there are important differences between mobile students: those who moved abroad for an undergraduate degree tended to be from more privileged backgrounds than those who moved for postgraduate studies and, as a result, considerably less sensitive to price differentials. Secondly, we suggest that, despite important differences in economic capital, both undergraduates and postgraduates were able to draw on significant cultural resources. This raises questions about the extent to which overseas opportunities can be opened up more widely, to include a greater cross-section of young people.
Dismore H, Byford K, Brooks R (2012) The Impact of Regional Partnership Scholarships on Recruitment, Retention and Attainment,
Waters J, Brooks R (2011) 'Vive la différence?': The 'international' experiences of UK students overseas, Population, Space and Place 17 (5) pp. 567-578 Wiley
As interest in the geographies of student mobilities grows, this paper examines the experiences of UK students overseas. More specifically, it considers the 'international' nature of their experiences, asking: to what extent do students actively seek out and encounter 'cultural difference' through their educational choices? International students are often described by those advocating the internationalisation of education as potential 'global citizens', cosmopolitans and ambassadors of inter-cultural understanding. However, our research on UK students has suggested a more complex engagement with 'diversity' through international education. First, we examine the motivations of UK students, and show that whilst many claim to be seeking 'something different' from an overseas education, at the same time they also desire a 'knowable' destination. Film and television were very significant in terms of making certain places familiar to students and thereby influencing their decisions. Secondly, students' experiences of cultural diversity overseas were often confined to an international student community. This has several implications. Most obviously, it limits the extent to which students encounter cultures 'local' to the destination country. The separation and isolation of the international student community, however, does serve a useful function in terms of wider processes of elite class formation and social reproduction. Thirdly, we describe some instances of where individuals formed significant and meaningful relationships with foreign nationals, often as a direct consequence of their experiences of studying overseas. Clearly, this suggests a very direct engagement with 'cultural diversity', albeit of a certain kind.
Brooks R, Everett G (2008) The impact of higher education on lifelong learning,International Journal of Lifelong Education 27 (3) pp. 239-254 Taylor & Francis
The UK?s National Adult Learning Survey has emphasised that graduates are more likely than other groups of people to engage in further learning and to be motivated by the intrinsic nature of the subject matter. However, beyond this we know relatively little about the learning of graduates as a specific group. In particular, we know very little about how experiences of higher education affect attitudes towards learning in the years after graduation. To start to redress this gap, this paper draws on in?depth interviews with 90 graduates from six different UK higher education institutions, five years after they completed their first degree. It argues that, in the case of many of these young adults, the influence of higher education on further learning was exerted at three levels in relation to: the process of learning; the construction of learner identities; and understandings of the relationship between learning and the wider world.
Brooks RM, Waters JL (2015) The Hidden Internationalism of Elite English Schools,Sociology 49 (2) pp. 212-228
Analyses of UK higher education have provided compelling evidence of the way in which this sector has been affected by globalisation. There is now a large literature documenting the internationalisation of British universities, and the strategic and economic importance attached to attracting students from abroad. Within the schools sector, it has been argued that parents are increasingly concerned about the acquisition of valuable multicultural ?global capital?. Nevertheless, we know little about whether ?internationalism? and/or the inculcation of ?global capital? is an explicit focus of UK schools. To start to redress this gap, this article draws on an analysis of websites, prospectuses and other publicly available documents to explore the extent to which internationalism is addressed within the public face that schools present to prospective pupils, and the nature of any such messages that are conveyed.
Brooks R, McCormack M, Bhopal K (2013) Contemporary Debates in the Sociology of Education, Palgrave Macmillan
Adopting an international perspective, this book foregrounds cutting-edge research that highlights both the diversity and complexity of understanding education in society.
Brooks R (2012) Ethical challenges of youth research: themes and issues, In: Riele KT, Brooks R (eds.), Negotiating Ethical Challenges in Youth Research Routledge
Brooks R (2009) Young Graduates and Understandings of Adulthood, In: Burnett J (eds.), Contemporary Adulthood: Calendars, Cartographies and Constructions Palgrave MacMillan
Waters J, Brooks R (2011) International/transnational spaces of education,Globalisation, Societies and Education 9 (2) pp. 155-160 Taylor & Francis
Brooks R (2008) Accessing Higher Education: The Influence of Cultural and Social Capital on University Choice, Sociology Compass 2 (4) pp. 1355-1371 Wiley & Blackwell
Over recent years, sociologists of education have paid increasing attention to the higher education sector. They have highlighted the ways in which, despite the significant expansion in the number of university places available in many countries across the world, access to and choices about higher education continue to be strongly influenced by social class. This article provides an overview of recent literature in this field and explores how scholars have tended to explain this influence by drawing on Pierre Bourdieu's concepts of habitus and cultural and social capital.
Brooks RM, Holford JAK (2009) Citizenship, learning and education: themes and issues, Citizenship Studies 13 (2) pp. 85-103 ROUTLEDGE JOURNALS, TAYLOR & FRANCIS LTD
Brooks R (2007) Government rhetoric and student understandings: discursive framings of higher education "choice", In: EPSTEIN D, BODEN R, DEEM R, RIZVI F, WRIGHT S (eds.), Geographies of Knowledge, Geometries of Power: Higher Education in the 21st Century. (World Year Book of Education 2008) Routledge
Waters J, Brooks R (2010) Accidental achievers? International higher education, class reproduction and privilege in the experiences of UK students overseas,British Journal of Sociology of Education 31 (2) pp. 217-228 Routledge, Taylor & Francis
To date, scholarship on international students has generally focused on flows from
non-western economies to the main English-speaking destination countries (such
as the United States, the United Kingdom and Australia). In contrast, we draw on
a qualitative study of 85 UK students who have either completed or are considering
undertaking a degree programme overseas. We found that, in opposition to a
common image of ?international students?, UK students are not overtly motivated
by ?strategic? concerns. Instead, they are seeking ?excitement? and ?adventure?
from overseas study and often use the opportunity to delay the onset of a career
and prolong a relatively carefree student lifestyle. Despite these ostensibly
?disinterested? objectives, however, UK students remain a highly privileged group
and their experiences serve only to facilitate the reproduction of their privilege. The
paper calls for a more critical analysis of the spatially uneven and socially
exclusive nature of international higher education.
Waters J, Brooks R, Pimlott-Wilson H (2011) Youthful escapes? British students, overseas education and the pursuit of happiness,Social and Cultural Geography 12 (5) pp. 455-469 Routledge, Taylor & Francis
This paper draws upon the findings of a recent project examining the motivations of UK students seeking higher education overseas. We argue that notions of fun, enjoyment and the pursuit of happiness abroad featured strongly in young people's stories, in contrast to an emphasis in recent academic and media accounts on overt strategising around educational decision making. Several students wanted to escape the UK, particularly the rigidity of British higher education; the perceived flexibility of a liberal arts education was extremely appealing. Others saw education overseas as a chance for personal reinvention. Moving the focus away from stressing the negative effects of academic-related pressures upon young people, in this paper, we argue that education can offer up new possibilities for fun and excitement, which for privileged individuals work alongside more strategic objectives around the accumulation of cultural capital.

Cet article tire des conclusions d'un projet récent examinant les motivations des étudiants britanniques cherchant une formation supérieure à l'étranger. Nous soutenons que les idées du plaisir, amusement, et la poursuit du bonheur à l'étranger figuraient fortement dans les histoires des jeunes, au contraire à une importance accordée à des objectifs stratégiques liés aux décisions scolaires dans des comptes-rendus académiques et médiatiques. De nombreux étudiants voulaient échapper au RU, particulièrement la rigidité de l'éducation supérieure britannique; la souplesse perçue d'une éducation aux arts libéraux leur était très intéressante. Des autres ont cru l'éducation à l'étranger comme opportunité d'une réinvention de soi. En déplaçant l'accent d'un mise en relief des effets négatifs des pressions académiques sur les jeunes, nous soutenons dans cet article que l'éducation peut ouvrir de nouvelles possibilités au plaisir et à l'excitation, lesquels complémentent des objectifs plutôt stratégiques liés à l'accumulation du capital culturel.

Éste articulo se examina las motivaciones de alumnos Británicos cuales buscan estudiar al extranjero. A diferencia del énfasis de algunos informes académicos y periodísticos sobre estrategias de tomar decisiones educativas, discutimos que los conceptos de diversión, placer y la búsqueda de la felicidad salieron con frecuencia en los cuentos de jóvenes. Varios alumnos querían escapar al Reino Unido, particularmente la rigidez de la enseñanza superior Británica, y la flexibilidad percibida de una edu

Brooks R (2006) Learning and work in the lives of young adults, International Journal of Lifelong Education 25 (3) pp. 271-289
It is clear that for many young people the balance between learning, work and leisure has shifted considerably over recent decades. Many students now work throughout the whole of their postcompulsory education, entering the labour market well before any higher education applications have been made, and continue to work throughout their time at university. In part, this may be driven by: young peoples desires to maintain a particular 'consumer lifestyles; shifts towards flexible labour in many sectors of the economy that have provided more opportunities for student employment; as well as the increasing costs of studying for a degree. Within this context, many young people have become very practised at 'juggling a job, an education and a social life. Drawing on a study of 30 graduates in their midtwenties, this paper explores whether the experience of combining education and employment may facilitate lifelong learning, through the 'normalisation of these patterns or whether, conversely, the financial pressures that many young people experience during their postcompulsory education act as a disincentive to pursue further learning.
Brooks R (2011) Young People and Learning, In: Jarvis P (eds.), The Routledge International Handbook of Learning Routledge
Waters JL, Brooks R (2013) Accidental achievers? International higher education, class reproduction and privilege in the experiences of UK students overseas, In: David M, Naidoo R (eds.), The Sociology of Higher Education: Reproduction, Transformation and Change in a Global Era Routledge
Waters J, Brooks R (2015) 'The magical operations of separation': English elite schools' on-line geographies, internationalisation and functional isolation, Geoforum 58 pp. 86-94
© 2014 Elsevier Ltd.This paper examines the enduring separation and isolation of elite schools in England, in the face of increasing and substantial internationalisation. It presents the findings of a research project examining the geographical narratives produced by 30 elite schools on their websites and through their prospectuses, newsletters, blogs and twitter feeds. A critical visual and textual analysis was undertaken. Drawing on these data, the paper argues that elite schools remain highly focused on promoting and defending their separateness and isolation, despite extensive, documented international involvements. Work on institutional and carceral geographies and geographies of education have provided some theoretical justification for why this might be the case, and we explore these reasons here. The paper concludes with a plea for more work on the elite schooling sector in England, as their spatial practices (isolation and internationalisation) continue to have a weighty bearing upon society.
Brooks R (2007) Friends, peers and higher education, British Journal of Sociology of Education 28 (6) pp. 693-707 Taylor & Francis
Theorists of friendship in contemporary society have suggested that our relationships with peers are characterised by their emphasis on openness, disclosure and emotional communication. Moreover, Beck and Beck-Gernsheim argue that friendship, as a deliberately sought, trusting partnership between two people, can play an important role in countering some of the negative consequences of a market-driven society, 'acting as a shared lifeline to take the weight of each other's confusions and weaknesses'. However, drawing on a series of in-depth interviews with students from nine different higher education institutions, this paper will argue that such theorists overlook significant complexity in the ways in which young adults choose to 'order' their friendships. Indeed, it will suggest that highly individualised and ruthlessly competitive approaches to academic study can be maintained alongside more socially cooperative relationships with friends and peers, played out in non-academic arenas. The paper will discuss the implications of this for both sociological theorising about friendship, and policy and practice within the higher education sector.
Brooks R (2009) Young people and political participation: An analysis of European Union policies, Sociological Research Online 14 (1)
There is now widespread recognition that, far from being politically apathetic, young people across Europe are engaged in a wide range of 'political' activities. While turnout at national and European elections among the 18-25 age group may be low, researchers have highlighted diverse and creative new forms of political participation. In relation to young women, in particular, Harris (2005) has presented a compelling analysis of the new 'borderspaces' opened up between public and private domains by young women through the use of new technologies. She contends that in the face of greater surveillance and regulation brought about by the shift to neo-liberal forms of governmentality, carving out a protected space for oneself is a political act, in itself. Moreover, the creative ways in which young women across the world use such spaces - to question dominant narratives about the nature of contemporary girlhood, to resist discourses which construct young women as merely passive consumers, and to trouble conventional notions of 'youth participation' - are highly political. Some EU representatives have indicated an awareness of these new forms of engagement and professed a desire to develop links between them and more traditional forms of party politics and policy making (Hoskins, 2005). Nevertheless, the degree to which these sentiments have been translated into policy remains unclear. This article draws on recent documents on young people, citizenship and political participation to assess the extent to which these new spaces of young women's politics are, firstly, recognised and, secondly, valued within EU policy. © Sociological Research Online, 1996-2009.
Brooks RM, Byford K, Sela K (2015) Inequalities in Students' Union Leadership: the role of social networks, Journal of Youth Studies 18 (9) pp. 1204-1218 Taylor & Francis
Drawing on a national survey of students? union officers and staff, and a series of 24 focus groups involving both union officers and institutional senior managers, this article explores the characteristics of those who take up leadership roles in their (higher education) students? union. We show that, in several areas ? and particularly in relation to gender, ethnicity and age ? union leaders do not represent well the diversity of the wider student body. In explaining these inequalities, we argue that friendship groups and other peer networks play a significant role in determining who does and does not take up leadership positions. Moreover, as friendship groups are often formed on the basis of ?differential association? and are thus frequently socially homogenous, inequalities tend to be perpetuated. Wider institutional cultures and societal norms are also implicated.
Brooks R (2008) Youth and Lifelong Learning, In: Jarvis P (eds.), International Handbook of Lifelong Learning Routledge
Brooks RM, McCormack M, Bhopal K (2013) Contemporary Debates in the Sociology of Education: an introduction,In: Brooks R, McCormack M, Bhopal K (eds.), Contemporary Debates in the Sociology of Education Palgrave
Waters J, Brooks R (2012) Transnational spaces, international students: emergent perspectives on educational mobilities, In: Brooks R, Fuller A, Waters J (eds.), Changing Spaces of Education: New Perspectives on the Nature of Learning pp. 21-38 Routledge
Historically, university cultures have been described as masculine in orientation, and the ?ideal learner? as male, white, middle class and unencumbered by domestic responsibility. Nevertheless,
more recent work has highlighted certain spaces within the higher education sector which, it
is argued, are more welcoming of female students and those with family commitments. While
there may now be more institutional spaces open to student-parents and others with caring
responsibilities, we know little about whether similar change has been wrought in the domestic
sphere. Drawing on interviews with 68 student-parents, this article explores the various strategies
UK students with dependent children used to find time and space, within the home, to pursue
their studies. By comparing these to the strategies used by student-parents at Danish universities,
the article considers the extent to which differences in gender norms and state policy with
respect to both higher education and childcare affect day-to-day familial practices.
Brooks R (2003) Discussing higher education choices: differences and difficulties, Research Papers in Education 18 (3) pp. 237-258 Taylor & Francis
Social psychological studies have long emphasized the importance of openness, disclosure and the sharing of plans for the future to young people's friendships. Recently, similar claims have been made within sociology, but applied to friendships and other relationships practised at various points throughout the life-course. From both these perspectives, it would be expected that as young people come to make decisions about their post-18 destinations, their deliberations would be discussed with close friends. Indeed, various large-scale surveys of the factors affecting young people's higher education choices have indicated that friends may play an important role in this process. However, while these have provided a useful measure of the proportion of young people who discussed their choices with their friends, they have been unable to illuminate the content and length of such discussions, the number of friends with whom discussions were held, or the nature of the friendships of the young people in the sample. Using qualitative data drawn from a two-year, longitudinal study with young people between the ages of 16 and 18, this paper illuminates the nature of such conversations with friends and others in the wider peer group. It argues that, contrary to the implications of previous quantitative studies, conversations about higher education courses and institutions were extremely limited. In seeking to explain the reasons for this it will highlight a number of difficulties young people had in talking to their friends about higher education, focusing largely on the significant differences between friends and others in the wider peer group, which were brought into sharp relief by the decision-making process. On the basis of this evidence, it suggests that discussions about higher education were inherently problematic for almost all the young people in the sample, and for this reason were avoided.
Brooks RM, Byford K, Sela K (2015) Students' unions, consumerism and the neo-liberal university,British Journal of Sociology of Education Taylor & Francis
This article explores the economic relationships between individual students? unions and their wider institutions, and the ways in which they articulate with a pervasive consumerist agenda across the higher education sector. We draw on data from a UK-wide study to argue that students? unions have an ambivalent relationship with consumerist discourses: on the one hand, they often reject the premise that the higher education student is best conceptualised as a consumer; yet, on the other, they frequently accept aspects of consumerism as a means of, for example, trying to protect their independence and autonomy. We explore whether this particular form of positioning with respect to consumerism is best conceptualised as a form of resistance, or whether it has become extremely difficult for students? unions to take up any other position in a system that is driven by market logic.
The last ten years have seen the deepening and expansion of the process of internationalization in relation to higher education. This process is multi-faceted and has included the development of education 'brands' as governments and educational institutions become increasingly entrepreneurial in their approach to higher education. The number of students who choose to study abroad has also increased considerably.

Although there is a growing academic literature on the internationalization of higher education, students' own perspectives - on their motivations, objectives and experiences - are sorely lacking. Student Mobilities, Migration and the Internationalization of Higher Education is intended to address this gap. Its strong empirical focus, drawing on case studies of mobile students from East Asia, mainland Europe and the UK, helps to develop an in-depth understanding of both the commonalities and differences in the experiences of students from different parts of the world who choose to move abroad to pursue a higher education. It discusses the implications of their movement for contemporary higher education and for our understanding of migration more generally.

Te Riele, K., Brooks R (2012) Making Ethical Deliberations Public. Some provisional resources for youth research ethics., Youth Studies Australia 31 (3) pp. 11-16 Australian Clearinghouse for Youth Studies
Brooks RM, te Riele K, Maguire M (2014) Ethics and Education Research, Sage
Riele KT, Brooks R (2012) Negotiating Ethical Challenges in Youth Research, Routledge
Negotiating Ethical Challenges in Youth Research brings together contributors from across the world to explore real-life ethical dilemmas faced by researchers working with young people in a range of social science disciplines. Unlike literature that tends to discuss youth research at an abstracted and exalted level, this volume aims to make the basic principles and guidelines of youth research more ?real.? By openly discussing actual challenges that researchers have experienced in the course of conducting their fieldwork or interpreting their findings, this collection provides the most authentic overview of the ethics of youth research available.

A careful selection of chapters addresses a range of ethical challenges particularly relevant to contemporary youth researchers. Each chapter identifies an ethical issue that the author has personally experienced in his or her youth research, explains why this was a challenge or dilemma, outlines how the researcher responded to the challenge, and provides advice and draws out broader implications for youth researchers. The chapters are organized around three themes that capture core ethical challenges: power and agency, protection and harm prevention, and trust and respect. The result is a collection that is a rigorous and valuable resource to those embarking on research with young people for the first time as well as supporting the resolution of ethical challenges by more experienced researchers.

Bringing together contributions from international scholars, this book explores the changing nature of young people's transitions and challenges assumptions about pathways from education into employment in contemporary society.
Brooks R, Everett G (2009) Post-graduation reflections on the value of a degree, British Educational Research Journal 35 (3) pp. 333-349 Taylor & Francis
This article investigates the impact of a changing higher education system on young adults?
priorities and motivations. A considerable number of studies have explored the impact of recent
changes on patterns of participation within higher education. However, there has been less
emphasis on how such changes have been played out in the experiences of graduates and, more
specifically, in the interface between higher education and lifelong learning. To redress this gap,
this article explores the changes to graduates? experiences brought about by the ?massification? of
the higher education system. Research conducted amongst young people in Australia has
suggested that as result of the normalisation of post-compulsory education and the encouragement
of high aspirations, young people have come to assume a one-to-one relationship between being
qualified and having a lasting professional career. It has been argued that as a result of these
assumptions, young adults are often disappointed when they do eventually enter the labour
market, and experience uncertainties previously associated with the end of compulsory schooling.
If young adults do indeed feel misled about the rewards of a higher education, it is possible that
this may have a significant bearing on their perceptions of the value of engaging in further
education and training in the future. Drawing on 90 life history interviews with graduates in their
mid-twenties, this article explores the prevalence of such attitudes in the UK and their impact on young adults? attitudes to lifelong learning.
Brooks RM, Waters J (2010) Young Europeans and Educational Mobility, In: Wörsching M, Leaman J (eds.), Youth in contemporary Europe Taylor & Francis
Brooks RM, Waters J (2017) Materialities and Mobilities in Education, Routledge
Materialities and Mobilities in Education develops new arguments about the ways in which educational processes can be analysed. Drawing on a recent interest in mobilities across the social sciences, and a conterminous resurgence in academic accounts of materialities, the book demonstrates how these two ostensibly differing perspectives on education might be fruitfully deployed in tandem. Considering the interaction and convergence of materialities and mobilities, the book highlights the relationship between structural constraints and opportunities and the agency of individuals, providing a unique and essential insight into contemporary education. Examining a range of education spaces from the formal to the informal and the different types of mobility that manifest in relation to education, the book introduces readers to a range of theoretical resources and detailed case studies used to analyse the spatiality of education from across the disciplines of human geography, education and sociology. Drawing on material from across the globe, Materialities and Mobilities in Education is an engaging and relevant text, which will appeal to postgraduate students, researchers and academics interested in the development of education policy and practice.
Brooks RM (2017) Education in Nordic countries,British Journal of Sociology of Education 38 (5) pp. 753-760 Taylor & Francis
Brooks Rachel (2017) Understanding the higher education student in Europe: a comparative analysis,Compare: a journal of comparative and international education 48 (4) pp. 500-517 Taylor & Francis
Higher education (HE) is of considerable importance to policymakers across Europe. Indeed, it is viewed as a key mechanism for achieving a range of economic, social and political goals. Nevertheless, despite this prominence within policy, we have no clear understanding of the extent to which conceptualisations of ?the student? are shared across the continent. To start to redress this gap, this article explores four key aspects of contemporary higher education students? lives, considering the extent to which they can be considered as, variously, consumers, workers, family members and political actors. On the basis of this evidence, it argues that, despite assumptions on the part of European policymakers that there are now large commonalities in the experiences of students across Europe ? evident in pronouncements about Erasmus mobility and the operations of the European Higher Education Area ? significant differences exist both between, and within, individual nation-states.
Brooks Rachel (2017) Representations of East Asian students in the UK media,Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies 43 (14) pp. 2363-2377 Taylor & Francis
While several studies have explored the ways in which Asian young people have been represented in the UK media over recent years, the majority of these have focussed on those of Indian and Pakistani descent, and often in relation to the rise of Islamophobia in the aftermath of 9/11 and the bombings in London in July 2005. To date, there have been few studies that have focussed on East Asian young people in general or East Asian students in particular, despite the increasing importance of educational migration to the UK from China and neighbouring countries, and the growing number of East Asian pupils in UK schools and colleges. To start to redress this gap, this article explores the ways in which East Asian pupils and students were represented in the UK press between 2010 and 2015. It outlines the neo-colonial and neo-liberal narrative that is constructed about East Asian education and students; demonstrates that a clear distinction is drawn between British East Asians and their non-British counterparts, reflecting the differing economic status of the two groups; and argues that the media does not always ?manufacture consent? for government policy.
Brooks Rachel, Hodkinson Paul (2008) Introduction,Journal of Youth Studies 11 (5) pp. 473-479 Taylor & Francis
Over recent years, politicians and social commentators in many countries of the world have become concerned with what is perceived to be young people?s declining engagement within the political sphere. There is certainly strong evidence that turnout in national elections has fallen markedly among the youngest age groups. In the UK, for example, between 1997 and 2001 the percentage of 18-24 year olds who voted fell by 29 per cent to 39 per cent, a much greater drop than was witnessed among other age groups (Phelps 2005; Wattenberg 2003). Moreover, in 2005, when turnout in general rose slightly, it continued to decline for the 18-24 age group and remained the same for 25-34 year olds (Phelps 2005). Similar trends have been observed in other countries. Indeed, a previous special issue of the Journal of Youth Studies, on Youth and Politics (volume 6, number 3, 2003) has shown how concern about youth disengagement is driving public debate in countries as far apart as Canada, Germany and Australia.
Brooks Rachel (2011) Young People's Extra-Curricular Activities: Critical social engagement or something for the CV?,In: Coffey A, Hall T (eds.), Researching Young People Sage Publications Ltd
The government has argued in various arenas that ?active citizenship? is one way in which young people can be effectively re-engaged with their communities, and with the political process more broadly. As part of this analysis, it has placed particular emphasis on the potential contribution of youth volunteering. However, many researchers have argued that such initiatives are essentially conservative, placing emphasis firstly on the skills and competences necessary to make a contribution to the economy rather than more innovative understandings of citizenship, and secondly on the importance of active community participation rather than an understanding of welfare rights and social citizenship. In engaging with this debate, this article draws on a study of 21 young people (aged between 16 and 18) involved in a range of different voluntary, peer-driven and socially focused extra-curricular groups in sixth-form colleges. It argues that, for the young people involved in this study, the effects of becoming involved were complex, multidirectional and, in some cases, apparently contradictory. While in some ways the activities appeared to serve essentially conservative functions (for example, by developing sympathy for those in positions of power), in other respects they engendered a much more critical stance to some aspects of the young people's worlds.
Despite allegations of political disengagement and apathy on the part of the young, the last ten years have witnessed a considerable degree of political activity by young people ? much of it led by students or directed at changes to the higher education system. Such activity has been evident across the globe. Nevertheless, to date, no book has brought together contributions from a wide variety of national contexts to explore such trends in a rigorous manner. Student Politics and Protest: International Perspectives offers a unique contribution to the disciplines of education, sociology, social policy, politics and youth studies. It provides the first book-length analysis of student politics within contemporary higher education comprising contributions from a variety of different countries and addressing questions such as: "What roles do students? unions play in politics today? "How successful are students in bringing about change? "In what ways are students engaged in politics and protest in contemporary society? "How does such engagement differ by national context? Student Politics and Protest: International Perspectives explores a number of common themes, including: the focus and nature of student politics and protest; whether students are engaging in fundamentally new forms of political activity; the characteristics of politically engaged students; the extent to which such activity can be considered to be ?globalised?; and societal responses to political activity on the part of students. Student Politics and Protest: International Perspectives does not seek to develop a coherent argument across all its chapters but, instead, illustrate the variety of empirical foci, theoretical resources and substantive arguments that are being made in relation to student politics and protest. International in scope, with all chapters dealing with recent developments concerning student politics and protest, this book will be an invaluable guide for Higher Education professionals, masters and postgraduate students in education, sociology, social policy, politics and youth studies.
Brooks R (2017) The construction of higher education students in English policy documents,British Journal of Sociology of Education pp. 1-17 Taylor & Francis
This article investigates the ways in which students are constructed in contemporary English higher education policy. First, it contends that, contrary to assumptions made in the academic literature, students are not conceptualised as ?empowered consumers?; instead their vulnerability is emphasised by both government and unions. Second, it identifies other dominant discourses, namely that of ?future worker? and ?hard-worker?. These articulate with extant debates about both the repositioning of higher education as an economic good, and the use of the ?hard-working? trope across other areas of social policy. Third, it shows that differences are drawn between groups of students. Contrasts are drawn, for example, between international students, juxtaposing the ?brightest and best? with those who are considered ?sham?. Finally, it argues that the figure of the ?vulnerable? student and ?thwarted consumer? feed into broader government narratives about its policy trajectory, legitimising contemporary reforms and excusing the apparent failure of previous policies.
International student mobility had undergone considerable growth over the last thirty years (OECD, 2015). Students who travel to different countries to study can be seen as an important group of people who develop the internationalisation of higher education. One type of student mobility, credit mobility, has come to assume greater importance recently. The number of credit mobile students, that is students who undertake a period studying or working abroad during their degree, has increased (European Commission, 2016). However, whilst credit mobile students form only a small minority of the student population, there has been a lack of research with young people who choose to participate in these programmes.

This PhD research is a qualitative project that explores the motivations, experiences and aspirations of UK students who have spent either a semester or year abroad. Firstly, this study explores the backgrounds and biographies of these students who choose to travel abroad for higher education. Secondly, the study analyses the experiences of these students during their stay overseas. And thirdly, careful attention is paid to the aspirations of these students after they have returned from their period abroad.

In this research, I demonstrate how young people attach significant value to student mobility by discussing it as an acceptable form of ?authentic? travel. Discourses around acceptable forms of travel, I show, stem from the habitus (Bourdieu 1986) of these young people. Secondly, I provide the first in-depth analysis of the key experiences of these students whilst abroad. Drawing on John Urry?s (2002) concept of the tourist gaze, I outline how new experiences away from home create a sense of adventure and novelty. Lastly, this research makes an original contribution to knowledge by developing our understanding of the aspirations of students who have completed a period abroad. Using Bauman?s (1996, 1998) theory of ?tourism?, I demonstrate how young people who have studied and/or worked abroad become seduced by imagined mobile futures. I show how, for these students, their experiences create desires to continue living mobile lifestyles.

Brooks Rachel, Abrahams Jessica (2018) Higher education students as consumers? Evidence from England,In: Tarabini Aina, Ingram Nicola (eds.), Educational Choices, Aspirations and Transitions in Europe: Systemic, Institutional and Subjective Constraints Routledge
It is now widely assumed in England ? by academics and social commentators alike ? that, as a result of the introduction of a wide range of market reforms over the past few decades, English students have become consumers of higher education (HE). In this chapter we draw on two sources of data to interrogate critically these assumptions in relation to both students? choice-making processes and experiences of degree-level study. Firstly, we analyse the extent to which students are constructed as consumers in contemporary policy documents, including the white paper Success as a Knowledge Economy: Teaching Excellence, Social Mobility and Student Choice (DBIS, 2016), which provides the basis for the Higher Education Bill which has recently passed through the UK parliament. Secondly, we consider the extent to which these constructions are shared by students themselves, using data from focus groups in a diverse sample of English higher education institutions (HEIs). We explore whether students contest these constructions and/or offer their own alternatives. The structure of our chapter is as follows: we first discuss the background to the research, by outlining key facets of the higher education system in England, and some of the main theoretical debates that are pertinent to our study. We then briefly describe our research methods before going on to present our findings in some detail ? comparing the degree of congruence between policy constructions and student understandings. In our conclusion, we discuss some of the systemic challenges that emerge from our data.
Brooks R (2018) Higher education mobilities: a cross-national European comparison,Geoforum 93 pp. 87-96 Elsevier
Within the extant literature on patterns of mobility of higher education students to and from Europe there is some recognition that these differ across geographical space ? in relation to variations in national uptake of the European Union?s Erasmus scheme, for example. However, strong similarities are also often identified ? about the way in which mobility is desired by students, higher education institutions and national governments, and how this is stimulated, in part, by various European initiatives such as the commitment to forging a European Higher Education Area. Moreover, while scholars have critiqued normative expectations of mobility ? pointing out, for example, that not all students have the necessary social, cultural and economic resources to support a period of study abroad ? there has been less critical focus on the way in which constructions of the ?mobile student? vary spatially. This article draws on a dataset of 92 policy documents from six European nations to argue that, while some convergence is notable, particularly in relation to the ways in which student mobility is placed centre-stage within internationalisation strategies, key differences are also evident ? with respect to: the scale of desired mobility; the characteristics of the imagined ?mobile subject?; the extent to which social justice concerns are brought into play; and the prioritisation given to outward mobility. These raise important questions about the degree of ?policy convergence? across Europe and the ostensible homogenisation of European higher education systems around an Anglo-American model.
Brooks Rachel (2018) Higher education students as political actors: evidence from England and Ireland,Journal of Youth Studies Taylor & Francis
Higher education (HE) students have often been viewed as important political actors in wider society, stemming largely from their activities in the 1960s. Nevertheless, like much of the literature on youth political participation, research has rarely explored the extent to which student political participation varies across nation-states. This article begins to redress this gap by drawing upon data collected from focus groups with undergraduate students in England and Ireland, alongside an analysis of relevant policy documents from both countries. Overall, we argue that, whilst English and Irish students expressed similar desires to be politically active, they differed in the extent to which they felt empowered to do so and the perceived scope of their influence. Similar differences were evident, to some extent, in the way in which students? political activity were seen by policymakers. These cross-national differences are explained with reference to contextual factors and, in particular, variation in the degree of HE marketisation in the two countries. There is also evidence to suggest that students are sensitive to the way in which they are constructed in policy, which affects their sense of selves as political actors.
Hodkinson Paul, Brooks Rachel (2018) Interchangeable Parents? The Roles and Identities of Primary and
Equal Carer Fathers of Young Children
Current Sociology SAGE Publications
Against the context of enduring gender inequalities in early years? parental care, this paper examines the experiences of UK fathers who had taken on primary or equal care responsibility for children aged three or under. Informed by qualitative interviews with 24 such fathers, the paper explores a discourse of parental interchangeability that pervaded their accounts before outlining the ways that, in practice, most caregiving tasks did tend to be allocated to them or their partners primarily on the basis of factors other than gender. The men?s comfort in presenting themselves and their partners as interchangeable equivalents, along with the range of caregiving approaches they were taking on suggest, we argue, that they had begun to move beyond clearly differentiated motherly or fatherly roles. We go on, however, to show that certain emotional, organisational and social aspects of parenting sometimes continued to be centred on mothers. In explaining the endurance of these areas of maternal responsibility within otherwise interchangeable partnerships, we outline mutually reinforcing sets of maternal pressures and paternal barriers.
Around 2009 some UK universities (based outside of the capital) began to open ?satellite
campuses? in London. There are currently 14 such campuses at present, which have been developed
primarily with an international student market in mind. Concerns have been raised, however, about
the quality of teaching on these campuses and the fact that student attainment is ostensibly falling
significantly below that for the ?home? campus. This project is the first of its kind to investigate,
systematically, the ways in which universities are representing themselves in relation to these
campuses (data include an analysis of prospectuses, YouTube content, websites and material garnered
at open days). Using these data, we discuss the role that the City of London plays as a pivotal
backdrop to these developments: the way it serves to substitute and compensate for lower levels of
resources provided directly to the student from the university (here we consider accommodation,
the outsourcing of teaching, the absence of a substantive campus environment and a general lack
of focus on ?pedagogical? matters in almost all marketing materials). Instead, the universities place
London at the front and centre of attempts to ?sell? the campus to potential students. The paper
makes some innovative conceptual links between work in migration studies on the role and function
of global cities in attracting workers and the way in which the city operates in this case to attract
international students. These campuses feed into debates around the increasing inequalities evidenced
as a consequence of the internationalisation of higher education, even when such developments are
ostensibly ?domestic?.
Brooks Rachel (2018) Education and Society: Places, Policies and Processes, Red Globe Press
This new textbook offers a wide-ranging discussion of the key debates within the sociology of education. Covering everything from policymaking and the curriculum, to class, ethnicity and gender, and the ways that they and other social divisions intersect to produce inequalities, this timely publication provides a much-needed contribution to the study of education?s vital role in contemporary society. With examples drawn from such diverse contexts as Australian pre-schools, Finnish higher education institutions and English further education colleges, the text presents students with an international perspective and encourages them to engage critically with some of the core questions that lie at the heart of the topic: what is the purpose of education? who decides what formal education entails? and what impact does education have on both society and individuals?Rachel Brooks?s extensive knowledge of decades of scholarly work in education and sociology ensures the book is academically rigorous throughout, while the final chapter on emerging educational research means it is fully up to date. The text?s accessible style is ideally suited to all those new to the topic and studying the Sociology of Education for the first time, whether this be from departments of sociology, childhood studies, social policy, or a range of other social science disciplines.
Brooks Rachel (2019) Diversity and the European higher education student: policy influencers? narratives of difference,Studies in Higher Education Taylor & Francis
Comparative studies of European social policy have pointed to significant differences with respect to the way in which diversity is valued and understood, contrasting nations that have adopted strongly compulsory and integrationist policies with others that have pursued more voluntary and pluralistic approaches. Within the higher education sector specifically, although there have been numerous European-level initiatives to encourage national governments to take action to widen access to university, we know relatively little about how key policy actors conceptualise diversity with respect to the student population, and the extent to which such understandings are shared across national borders. Drawing on in-depth interviews with a range of ?policy influencers? in six European countries and an analysis of relevant policy documents, this article suggests that dimensions of difference are not always valued equally and that, despite policy imperatives promoting higher education homogenisation across the continent, some significant differences between nation-states endure.
Brooks Rachel, Hodkinson Paul (2019) Out-of-place: the lack of engagement with parent networks of caregiving fathers of young children,Families, Relationships and Societies Policy Press
This article explores the daytime social interactions of fathers who have assumed primary or equal responsibility for the care of their young children. For most such fathers in our sample, contact with other parents during their day-to-day care was minimal. Many rationalised their isolation as a personal preference rooted in their own ?introverted? nature. Nevertheless, such individualised narratives underplay how various systemic factors worked against their integration into parent networks, including: feeling ?out-of-place? in many daytime public spaces; a fear of being judged because of their gender; and the difficulty of meeting other fathers with responsibility for day-to-day care. The operation of these factors provides evidence of the enduring nature of gender differences with respect to early years parenting and, in particular, of the gendering of daytime public parenting spaces ? something that may represent a barrier to the extent and longevity of fathers? caregiving roles.
Brooks Rachel (2019) The construction of higher education students within national policy a cross-European comparison,Compare: A Journal of Comparative and International Education Taylor & Francis (Routledge)
It is often assumed within much of the academic literature and by many of those working in higher education that universities across Europe are homogenising, converging around an Anglo-American model as a result of neo-liberal pressures and the aim of creating a single European Higher Education Area. However, drawing on an analysis of 92 policy documents from six different European countries, this article demonstrates that enduring differences remain ? at least in so far as constructions of students are concerned. While European policy may assume that higher education students can move unproblematically across national borders, as part of the Erasmus mobility scheme, for example, we show that understandings of ?the student? differ in significant ways both across countries and, to some extent, within them. This has implications for both European policy and academic theorisation.
Brooks Rachel, Hodkinson Paul (2020) Sharing Care: Equal and Primary Carer Fathers and Early Years Parenting, Bristol University Press

Drawing on detailed qualitative research, this timely study explores the experiences of fathers who take on equal or primary care responsibilities for young children.

The authors examine what prompts these arrangements, how fathers adjust to their caregiving roles over time, and what challenges they face along the way.

The book asks what would encourage more fathers to become primary or equal caregivers, and how we can make things easier for those who do. Offering new academic insight and practical recommendations, this will be key reading for those interested in parenting, families and gender, including researchers, policymakers, practitioners and students.

Brooks Rachel, Gupta Achala, Jayadeva Sazana, Abrahams Jessie (2020) Students? views about the purpose of higher education:
a comparative analysis of six European countries
Higher Education Research and Development Routledge
Across Europe, assumptions are often made within the academic literature and by some social commentators that students have come to understand the purpose of higher education (HE) in increasingly instrumental terms. This is often linked to processes of marketisation and neo-liberalisation across the Global North, in which the value of HE has come to be associated with economic reward and labour market participation and measured through a relatively narrow range of metrics. It is also associated with the establishment, in 2010, of the European Higher Education Area, which is argued to have brought about the refiguration of European universities around an Anglo-American model. Scholars have contended that students have become consumer-like in their behaviour and preoccupied by labour market outcomes rather than processes of learning and knowledge generation. Often, however, such claims are made on the basis of limited empirical evidence, or a focus on policies and structures rather than the perspectives of students themselves. In contrast, this paper draws on a series of 54 focus groups with 295 students conducted in six European countries (Denmark, England, Germany, Ireland, Poland and Spain). It shows how understandings of the purpose of HE are more nuanced than much of the extant literature suggests and vary, at least to some extent, by both nation-state and higher education institution. Alongside viewing the purpose of HE as preparing them for the labour market, students emphasised the importance of tertiary-level study for personal growth and enrichment, and societal development and progress. These findings have implications for policy and practice. In particular, the broader purposes of HE, as articulated by the students in this study, should be given greater recognition by policymakers, those teaching in HE, and the wider public instead of, as is often the case, positioning students as consumers, interested in only economic gain.