This doctoral research project provides an exciting opportunity for the successful candidate to work closely with one of the leading organisations specialising in supporting homeless people – Shelter Scotland – in producing new research knowledge and evidence to support practice.
It is recognised that people between the ages of 16-25 are at the highest risk of homelessness and make-up the majority of the homeless population in Scotland and the UK. This has remained constant while the proportion of young people attending higher education has grown. Growing student numbers mean that a greater diversity of students are attending higher education institutions (HEIs) and these are more likely to share the characteristics of the population that are at higher risk of experiencing homelessness: poverty; family breakdown; experience of care. It is therefore likely that a greater number of students in HEIs are experiencing homelessness. Despite this, very little is known internationally about homelessness among students in higher education. This project aims to start filling the evidence gap with research from Scotland.
One of the key issues for students in the UK is that they could be particularly vulnerable as they cannot access welfare benefits (particularly Housing Benefit or the housing component of Universal Credit) while they are registered as a student. This may make it difficult for them to access accommodation in an emergency. There may also be blurred lines of accountability between a HEI’s duty of care to students and the statutory duty of local authorities to house people who are homeless.
Working with Shelter Scotland, the project would research all HEIs in Scotland to understand the extent of their supporting of homeless students. Through students’ unions and HEIs, the research would also engage with students who had experienced homelessness to better understand the reasons for their homelessness and what support they got and wish they had received. The project would produce internationally important research on the role of HEIs in supporting homelessness young people, as well as practical guidance for HEIs, students’ unions and students themselves.
The successful candidate will have demonstrable expertise in social sciences and research methods, show an enthusiasm and interest in the subject area and be keen to work with non-academic partners to use social science evidence to change policy and practice.