Centre for the Study of Higher Education


Dr Mi Young Ahn is a postdoctoral researcher of the Centre for the Study of Higher Education, currently working on the TASO racial equality project. Before joining the University of Kent, she was working on various inequality research projects at University College London (UCL), Bangor University, and Liverpool Hope University. With a background in sociology, social policy and social research, her main academic interests are educational inequality, social network and social capital, sense of belonging and student engagement in HE, social mobility and mixed methods research. She is an associate fellow of Higher Education Academy, and have taught sociology, social policy, social science research methodology modules, and qualitative (NVivo) and quantitative (SPSS) training for undergraduate and postgraduate at Bangor University and Coleg Llandrillo. She is a reviewer for several academic journals including Studies in Higher Education, Higher Education, International Journal of Sociology and Social Policy, Journal of American College Health, Journal of Mixed Methods

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Academic Journal Articles

  • Ahn, M. Y. and Davis, H. H. (2020). Students’ sense of belonging and their socio-economic status in higher education: a quantitative approach. Teaching in Higher Education, 1-14. doi:10.1080/13562517.2020.1778664
  • Ahn, M.Y. and Davis, H.H. (2020) Sense of belonging as an indicator of social capital, International journal of sociology and social policy, DOI 10.1108/IJSSP-12-2019-0258
  • Ahn, M.Y. and Davis, H.H. (2019) Four domains of students’ sense of belonging to university. Studies in Higher Education, https://doi.org/10.1080/03075079.2018.1564902

Research Reports

Conference Papers

  • Ahn, M.Y. (2019) The impacts of social class, locality and institutional habitus on students’ belonging in higher education (presentation), the British Educational Research Association (BERA) Conference 2019, Manchester University, Manchester
  • Lundie, D. and Ahn, M. Y. (2019) Educational disadvantage, social mobility and religious identity (presentation), Association of University Lecturers in Religion and Education (AULRE) Annual Conference 2019, Newman University, Birmingham
  • Ahn, M. Y. (2019) Inequality in higher education in Wales: local and institutional belonging (presentation), the Wales Institute of Social and Economic Research, Data & Methods (WISERD) Annual Conference 2019, Aberystwyth University, Aberystwyth
  • Ahn, M. and Davis, H. (2016) The complexity of student’s sense of belonging to higher education institutions (oral presentation), the British Educational Research Association (BERA) Annual Conference 2016, University of Leeds, Leeds
  • Ahn, M. and Davis, H. (2016) Sense of belonging, as an indicator of social capital (oral presentation), the Wales Institute of Social and Economic Research, Data & Methods (WISERD) Annual Conference 2016, Swansea University, Swansea
  • Ahn, M. and Davis, H. (2016) Four domains of students’ sense of belonging to university (oral presentation), the British Sociological Association (BSA) conference 2016, Aston University, Birmingham
  • Ahn, M. and Davis, H. (2016) Social engagements, as the key factor for students’ sense of belonging to university (oral presentation), Proceedings of the Asia-Pacific Conference on Education, Society and Psychology 2016, Seoul, Korea
  • Ahn, M., Caulfield, J., Orrell, A., and Robinson, C. (2014) Students’ Sense of Belonging to Bangor University (poster presentation), Wales Institute of Social & Economic Research, Data & Methods (WISERD) conference 2014, Aberystwyth University, Aberystwyth
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Research Interests

Equality and social mobility, particularly through education, have been my passion, and I have been investigating educational inequality and disadvantages for the last few years since my PhD by applying mixed methods approach.

One of my main research work was conducting the statistical analysis of the large-scale quantitative data for the educational policy evaluation research, the Research Schools Network evaluation in Opportunity Areas, commissioned by the Education Endowment Foundation (EEF) at Institute of Education (IoE), University College London (UCL). The final report of the first stage evaluation is available here

I also completed a higher education inequality research project, Students’ Sense of Belonging in Higher Education: the Impacts of Social Class, Locality and Institutional Habitus in Bangor University, since I was awarded the Society for Research into Higher Education (SRHE) Scoping Award 2018.

Previously I worked for the Educational Disadvantage, Social Mobility and Religious Education project, funded by Culham St Gabriel’s Trust, conducting secondary data analysis of the large-scale public datasets in secondary education. The statistical findings are covered in the media, including The Times (Religious studies GCSE in sharp decline.

After a PhD, I worked on the international research project for the Sustainable Development and Community Participation as a response to the 3rd Habitat Project of the United Nation in Korea, funded by the International Council for Local Environmental Initiatives (ICLEI, Korea) in 2017. I had also participated in the Black and Minority Ethnic (BME) housing consultation research in Gwynedd county in 2010, funded by the Welsh Assembly.

Alongside my current research investigating race equality in HE for the TASO project, I am working on the research project funded by Kent SVRS (Summer Vacation Research Scheme 2021), which involves the data linkage method of various educational official statistics. It aims to provide the complete contextual data to evaluate individual school’s performance and compare them on the regional and national levels.

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Research Grants

  • 2021 Kent SVRS (Summer Vacation Research Scheme), University of Kent
  • 2018 The Society for Research into Higher Education (SRHE) Scoping Award – ‘Students’ sense of belonging in higher education: the impacts of social class, locality and institutional habitus’
  • 2013-2014 Students’ sense of belonging to Bangor University research project, Widening Access Fund, Bangor University
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Last Updated: 11/06/2021