Social Integration & the Role of Student Societies in Higher Education: An Exploratory Study in the UK’

Damian Gallagher, Audrey Gilmore

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This paper reports the research findings of an exploratory study designed to examine the role that planned efforts to establish and cultivate a student society play in the social integration of undergraduate students in higher education institutions (HEIs) in the UK. It identifies and explores the potential positive and negative benefits and outcomes that the operation of such a society can provide. The study aimed to achieve a better understanding of the role that a student society can play in the social integration of students. A qualitative methodology using 12 in-depth interviews was employed. Data were analysed in relation to the key theme of the study, that is, student-peer and student-staff interactions. In addition, emergent themes were recorded and evaluated. The findings demonstrated that involvement in a student society did contribute to the social integration of students, it was found to be a key factor in reducing student attrition and dropout rates. The findings also demonstrate that a student society can make a meaningful and positive contribution to the management and administration of HEIs in terms of the perceived employability of students and the potential for student recruitment. It would appear that perhaps the value of a student society is currently under-realised. Student societies could be viewed as a resource that with proper attention and development and could provide real benefits for both students and institutions across the entire HEI environment of the UK. Although there is a danger of student marginality occurring, there are ways to address this potential drawback.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)275-286
JournalInternational Journal of Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector Marketing
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2013


  • Social Integration
  • Student Societies
  • Higher Education
  • Marketing


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