Sarah Minty (PhD student)

Thesis title: Young people’s higher education decisions in Scotland: the influence of social class and family attitudes to higher education costs


Having worked in educational research since 2004, I am finally taking the plunge and undertaking a PhD. Funded by the ESRC DTC, my PhD research relates to young people’s higher education choices in Scotland. 

Professional/teaching experience

I am skilled in using both qualitative and quantitative research methods and I have worked on a wide range of British and European projects from inception to dissemination. I am experienced in coordinating knowledge exchange activities with policymakers and young people.

Recent relevant research projects include:

Research summary

  • Social justice and higher education policy
  • Widening access
  • Student finance and higher education funding
  • The role of family in young people’s post-school choices
  • Implementation and impact of government policy on young people and other stakeholders

Research activity

My mixed methods PhD is funded by the ESRC Scottish Doctoral Training Centre. It will investigate how social class and family attitudes to HE costs (immediate and deferred) influence young people’s HE decisions in Scotland. Levels of state support (student loans and bursaries) are determined by family income, yet policies tend to focus on young people as individuals rather than operating within, and influenced by, wider family contexts. Set within a Bourdieusian framework, the study aims to explore the range and balance of social, cultural and economic factors influencing young people’s HE choices as they are shaped within the family context. 

I will examine statistical patterns of HE participation and choice using Higher Education Statistics Authority (HESA) and Scottish Funding Council (SFC) data. In-depth qualitative interviews with young people and their families will provide deeper insights into these patterns by exploring the underlying family dynamics influencing young people’s HE decisions.

The study is innovative in four ways: 

  • It recognises that within the Scottish context of free tuition for Scottish/EU domiciled students, the question of HE costs remains under-explored despite the fact that most Scottish students take out maintenance loans and those from lower income backgrounds incur the greatest debt
  • Its mixed methods approach enables participation patterns to be examined and, critically, to identify the reasons
  • It includes young people undertaking HE in colleges and those pursuing alternatives to HE, as well as those interested in more traditional HE routes
  • Longitudinal interviews will track young people’s post-school transitions

The research will empirically test the extent to which family HE traditions are reproduced or disrupted, and provide insights into the private effects of public HE policy on Scottish families. 

Research Grants Awarded:


Edited books:

  • Riddell, S., Minty, S. & Weedon (2015) Higher Education in Scotland and the UK: Diverging or Converging Systems? Edinburgh University Press: Edinburgh.

Book chapters: 

  • Minty, S. (2015) Young people’s attitudes towards tuition fees and debt in Scotland and England; (in)? (Eds) Riddell, S., Minty, S. & Weedon, E. (2015) Higher Education in Scotland and the UK: Diverging or Converging Systems? Edinburgh University Press: Edinburgh.
  • Minty, S. (2010) Young People’s Hopes and Fears for their Global and Local Futures; (in) Future Citizens: 21st century challenges for young people; (Eds) Krzywosz-Rynkiewicz, B., Zalewska, A., and Ross, A.; Warsaw, Poland.
  • Hollingworth, S. and Minty, S. (2010) Young People’s Fears about Crime and Violence in Britain; (in) Future Citizens: 21st century challenges for young people; (Eds) Krzywosz-Rynkiewicz, B., Zalewska, A., and Ross, A.; Warsaw, Poland.


Journal articles: 

  • Minty, S. (forthcoming) Getting into higher education: young people’s views of fairness, Scottish Educational Review.
  • Riddell, S., Minty, S., Weedon, E. & Hunter Blackburn, L. (2015) Higher Education and the referendum on independence, The Political Quarterly, Vol. 86, No. 2, April–June 2015
  • Priestley, M., Minty, S. & Eager, M. (2013) School-based curriculum development in Scotland: Curriculum policy and enactment. Pedagogy, Culture and Society, 22 (2), 189-211
  • Priestley, M. & Minty, S. (2013) Curriculum for Excellence: ‘A brilliant idea, but…’ Scottish Educational Review. 45 (1), 39-52
  • Edwards, R., Miller, K. & Minty, S. (2013) The literacy practices for assessment in the vocational curriculum – the case of Hospitality. Journal of Vocational Education and Training. 65:2, 220-235
  • Maylor, U., Rose, A., Minty, S., Ross, A., Issa, T. & Kuyok, K. (2013) Exploring the impact of supplementary schools on Black and Minority Ethnic pupils mainstream attainment. British Educational Research Journal. 39; 1: 107–125
  • Holden, C. & Minty, S. (2011) Going global: Young Europeans aspirations and actions for the future; Citizenship Teaching and Learning. 2011; 6; 2: 123-137
  • Stead, M., Stradling, R., MacNeil, M., MacKintosh, A. M., Minty, S., McDermott, L., Eadie, D. (2010) Bridging the Gap between Evidence and Practice: A Multi-Perspective Examination of Real World Drug Education; Drugs: Education, Prevention and Policy; 2010; 17, 1: 1–20
  • Minty, S. (2008) Supplementary school teacher aspirations; Community Languages Bulletin; Issue 23, Autumn 2008, p11
  • Stead, M., Stradling, R., MacNeil, M., MacKintosh, A. M., Minty, S. (2007) Implementation Evaluation of the Blueprint Multi-component Drug Prevention Programme: Fidelity of School Component Delivery; Drug and Alcohol Review; 2007; 26, 6: 653-664

Selected other publications 



  • Minty, S. (2014). Widening access to Higher Education in Scotland: From School to University. Blog article on the Future of the UK and Scotland Programme website, 22.10.2014.
  • Minty, S. (2014). Our Future: Young people’s views on higher education and independence in Scotland The Future of UK and Scotland Programme blog, January 27 2014.
  • Minty, S. (2014). Higher education and the referendum on independence: does anyone know what will happen? Association of Graduate Careers Advisory Services (AGCAS) blog, September 15 2014.
  • Minty, S. (2014,). The state of the debate: higher education, The Future of UK and Scotland blog. September 9 2014.


Selected research reports: 

  • Canning, R., Pilz, M. & Minty, S. (forthcoming 2015) Unitisation and modularisation for flexibility and mobility in VET. Cedefop.
  • Minty, S. & Priestley, M. (2012) Developing Curriculum for Excellence in Highland Schools: A report on the qualitative findings for the Highland Council and the Scottish Government. Stirling: University of Stirling.
  • Priestley, M. & Minty, S. (2012) Developing Curriculum for Excellence. Summary of findings from research undertaken in a Scottish local authority. Stirling: University of Stirling.
  • Universities Scotland (2012) Beyond the Senior Phase: University Engagement with the Curriculum for Excellence.  Universities Scotland.  
  • Hutchings, M., Greenwood, C., Hollingworth, S., Mansaray, A. & Rose, A. with Minty, S. & Glass, K. (2012) Evaluation of the City Challenge programme. DfE.
  • Allen, K., Mansaray, A. & Minty, S. (2011) Evaluation of Media Trust’s Youth Mentoring Programme.
  • Mannion, G., Fenwick, A. & Minty, S. (2011) Teachers’ and pupils’ views on the proposed redevelopment of the Lochwinnoch RSPB centre and reserve. Commissioned by RSPB.
  • Stephen, C. & Minty, S. (2011) Review of SCMA Community Childminding and Working for Families Service.
  • Minty, S. & Hollingworth, S. (2010) Evaluation of the We Are What We Do Young Speakers Programme. Commissioned by We Are What We Do.
  • Maylor, U., Tanner, E., Finch, S., Glass, K., Issa, T., Kuyok, K., Low, N., Minty, S., Purdon, S., Rose, A., Ross, A., Taylor, E., and Tipping, S. (2010) The Impact of Supplementary Schools on Pupil’s Attainment: An Investigation into What Factors Contribute to Educational Improvements. Commissioned by the Department for Children, Schools and Families (DCSF).      
  • Hutchings, M., Seeds, K., Coleman, N., Harding, C., Mansaray, A., Maylor, U., Minty, S., and Pickering, E. (2009) Aspects of School Workforce Remodelling: Strategies Used and Impact on Workload and Standards. Commissioned by the DCSF.
  • Moreau, M. P. & Minty, S. (2009) Evaluation of the Inspire Programme. Commissioned by Imperial College, London.
  • Minty, S., Maylor, U., Issa, T., Kuyok, K. & Ross, A. (2008) Our Languages: Teachers in Supplementary Schools and their Aspirations to Teach Community Languages. Commissioned by CiLT, the National Resource Centre for Languages.
  • Peters, M., Hutchings, M., Edwards, G., Minty, S., Seeds, K., and Smart, S. (2008) The Behavioural Impact of Changes in the Teachers’ Pension Scheme, commissioned by DCSF.
  • Quinn, J., Minty, S., Kuyok, K. (2008) Widening Participation: Synthesis of International Evidence. Commissioned by Department for Innovation, Universities and Skills (DIUS).
  • Stead, M., Stradling, R., MacKintosh, A. M., MacNeil, M., Minty, S., Eadie, D. and the Blueprint Evaluation Team of The University of Stirling, The Open University and The University of Edinburgh. (2007) Delivery of the Blueprint Programme. Commissioned by the Home Office.
  • Stead, M., MacKintosh, A. M., McDermott, L. and Eadie, D. [ISM] and MacNeil, M., Stradling, R. and Minty, S. [University of Edinburgh] (2005) Evaluation of the Effectiveness of Drug Education in Scottish Schools. Commissioned by the Scottish Executive Education Department.
  • MacNeil, M., Stradling, R., Clark, A., Minty, S. and Micski, E. (2005) Integration in Practice: An Evaluation of Integrated Community Schools in Highland.  Commissioned by Highland Council and NHS Highland.
  • MacNeil, M., Stradling, R., Clark, A., Minty, S. and Micski, E. (2005) Promoting the health and wellbeing of Gypsy/ Travellers in Highland. An Evaluation of the Initiative. Commissioned by Highland Council and NHS Highland.


Selected conference and seminar presentations

  • Minty, S. (2015) Young people's attitudes towards tuition fees ad debt in Scotland and England, British Educational Research Association Conference, Queen's University Belfast, 18 September, 2015.
  • Minty, S. (2015) Improving young people's knowledge of student finance, CREID launch event and seminar, University of Edinburgh, 11 September 2015,
  • Minty, S. (2015) Young people's views on student funding, Presentation of evidence to the Commission on Widening Access, University of Edinburgh, 2 September 2015,
  • Minty, S. (2015) Improving young people's knowledge and understanding of student finance, Presentation to policy makers at Student Awards Agency Scotland, 24 August 2015
  • Minty, S. (2015) Student Finance and Funding: How are we providing prospective students and their advisers with information? Presentation at the annual national meeting for the staff of the Schools for HE Programme, University of Glasgow, 20 April 2015.
  • Minty, S. (2014) The funding of higher education: young people’s perspectives. Scottish Educational Research Association, University of Edinburgh, 19 November 2014.
  • Minty, S. (2014) Our Future: methodological issues in working with young people, Scottish Government Researchers’ seminar, Scottish Government, Edinburgh, August 2014.
  • Minty, S. (2014) Young people’s views on votes at 16. ESRC conference for school pupils, 11 June 2014, University of Edinburgh.
  • Minty, S. (2014) Young people’s views of higher education in Scotland and England: key findings from the research, ESRC dissemination event, University of Edinburgh, 24 June 2014.
  • Minty, S. (2014) Our Future: Young people’s views of higher education in Scotland. ESRC Seminar on The Future of Higher Education in Scotland and the UK, 27 January, 2014, University of Edinburgh.
  • Minty, S. (2014) Our Future: Young people’s views of higher education in Scotland. Film preview seminar, 10 January 2014, Centre for Educational Sociology, University of Edinburgh.
  • Canning, R., Minty, S., Pilz, M. & Li, J. (2013) Modularisation and VET: the quiet revolution in European curriculum reform. JVET conference, 2013, Oxford.
  • Priestley, M. & Minty, S. (2012) Curriculum for Excellence: ‘A brilliant idea, but…’ European Association of Educational Research conference, Cadiz, September 2012.
  • Minty, S. & Robinson, S. (2011) Exploring the links between teachers’ beliefs and school culture in the implementation of Curriculum for Excellence. Scottish Educational Research Association conference, Stirling, November 2011.
  • Minty, S. & Priestley, M. (2011) School-Based Curriculum Development in Scotland: Curriculum Policy and Enactment. European Association of Educational Research conference, Berlin, September 2011.
  • Priestley, M., Minty, S. & Logan, K. (2011) Practitioner engagement and school based curriculum development. Scottish Teacher Education Committee (STEC), held at University of Stirling, April 2011.
  • Minty, S., Hollingworth, S., Allen, K. & Holden, C. (2010) British Young People’s Understanding of Violence in a local context: Reality or Myth? Children’s Identity and Citizenship in Europe (CICe) 12th European Conference: Lifelong Learning and Active Citizenship, held at University of Barcelona, Spain, May 2010.
  • Minty, S. (2010). Young people’s global and local hopes and fears for the future. Paper presented at ECRP International Symposium: Future Citizens: Young people’s understanding of social and global issues, at Warsaw School of Social Science and Humanities, Poland, January 2010.
  • Minty, S. & Hutchings, M. (2008) To what extent can pension scheme changes increase retention of older teachers? British Educational Research Association conference, Heriot Watt University, Edinburgh, September 2008.