Visualizing the Future: Surfacing student perspectives on post-graduation prospects using Rich Pictures

Tessa Berg, Tracy Bowen, Colin Smith, Sally Smith

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Citations (Scopus)
158 Downloads (Pure)


The gradual commodification of higher education in the context of an increased focus on graduate employability attributes together with evolving labour markets is creating challenges for universities and students alike. For universities, there has been significant investment in careers services and, through institution-wide initiatives, employability or graduate attribute development established to support graduate transitions into work. Meanwhile, for students, experience of part-time work together with pessimistic post-recession employment discourses are challenging the notion that a good degree guarantees their future career prospects. Simultaneously, decreasing financial support from the state has resulted in worrying levels of debt for new graduates. This pilot study was designed to gain a fresh perspective of how students imagine themselves following graduation. The study used rich pictures (RP) as a methodology to explore student views of life beyond university in the UK and Canada. Content analysis of the RPs provided insights into their thoughts and anxieties about potential challenges for the future. Students presented both positive and negative visions of their future, with success in achieving a respectable performance in their final degree as the key differentiator. The insights gained are discussed in the context of related research into students’ concerns and university initiatives to support students throughout higher education and then into graduate employment. The findings revealed student motivations, hopes and fears which can inform the development of impactful university interventions.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1339-1354
Number of pages16
JournalHigher Education Research and Development
Issue number7
Early online date16 May 2017
Publication statusPublished - 10 Nov 2017


Dive into the research topics of 'Visualizing the Future: Surfacing student perspectives on post-graduation prospects using Rich Pictures'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this