Elementary (primary) and high (secondary) school education in Northern Ireland (NI) is essentially segregated along religious lines. The vast majority of young people from the Protestant/Unionist/British community attend state “Controlled” schools while Catholics/ Nationalists/Irish attend schools in the Catholic Church-based “Maintained” sector. Going to university represents for many the first opportunity to share a significant educational experience with someone from a different politico-religious group and cultural background. This paper presents the results of a focus-group based study designed to illuminate students' experiences of intergroup relations at a NI university. Through focus-group discussions information was generated on cross-community contact, the influence of group difference, prevalence, and identity, on attitudes and intergroup communication. The university environment as a factor in potential relational development, the role which student bodies and academic staff may play, and policies and practices on accepting diversity are discussed. Recommendations and considerations are highlighted for other pedagogical institutes where complex and difficult intergroup dynamics exist.
|Journal||International Journal of Qualitative Studies in Education|
|Publication status||Published (in print/issue) - 2003|