Hiding in plain sight. Surfacing the university experience of justice-involved students through creative methods





11 million people have a criminal record in the UK. 1 in 3 men have a criminal record - just over half have been convicted on only one occasion, and 85 per cent were convicted before they were 30 years old (Unlock, 2018). Although the exact number of students who have experience of the Criminal Justice System is unknown, conservative estimates suggest that roughly 1 per cent of university applicants declare a criminal record (Ibid). Though most people who have a criminal record do not pose a risk to public safety nor have restrictions that are relevant to university life, the stigma which surrounds the possession of a criminal record, alongside the blanket reconstruction of justice-involved people as ‘risky’ and ‘undeserving’ produces a range of collateral consequences that influence both access to and participation in higher education. Reflecting on their use of creative methodologies (auto-photography and storytelling) Sarah and Helena will explore how and in what ways justice-experienced students are vulnerable to omission across higher education theory, policy and practice. In doing so, this paper not only provides a valuable insight into an overlooked area of higher education praxis but utilise transferable methodologies and approaches that lend themselves to the study of other under-represented and marginalised groups in higher education and beyond.