Dr Rille Raaper

"Freedom and encouragement"

My story in Glasgow started as a visiting student on the MA Adult Education programme with Prof Mike Osborne and colleagues. I was very sad to leave the programme, and coming back to do my PhD in Glasgow was a great opportunity.

I graduated in 2016, having completed my thesis Student Assessment in Neoliberalised Universities: Issues of Discipline and Governmentality. My supervisors were Dr Fiona Patrick and Dr Margaret McCulloch. I was also able to undertake a number of additional roles during my PhD – I worked as a Graduate Teaching Assistant on a number of modules led by various staff members, from whom I learned so much. I was also a Research Intern on projects led by Willie McGuire, who gave me a lot of freedom and encouragement to engage with topics beyond my PhD research, including MOOC courses and assessment moderation practices. I am ever grateful to these and many other people who have played a significant role in my academic development.  I have many wonderful memories of my time at University of Glasgow, such as working with my PhD friends Stella Mouroutsou and Anna Beck to set up the PGR committee, and exciting events such as PGR seminars and staff-student dinners.

I was very lucky to have a job interview for the position of Assistant Professor in Education at Durham University on the same week as my PhD viva. I was successful in the interview and have since been promoted to Associate Professor. I have been working at Durham University since February 2016. My main specialism is in the sociology of higher education with a particular focus on student identity and experience. I currently convene and teach two modules, Higher Education: Issues of Exclusion and Inclusion (UG level) and the Case for Higher Education: From Precarity to Empowerment (PG level). My most recent research has been looking into students’ political identity and practice, as well as student support needs during the Covid-19 pandemic. I have found that my PhD from Glasgow supported my development as a researcher and a teacher, and helped me develop skills essential for an academic job. I am really grateful for my supervisors’ support through the whole process. Working with PhD students now, I often think about what my own supervisors would do or say in any given situation.

I can confidently say that doing a PhD has changed my life and given me many opportunities that I would not have otherwise had. I also met some incredible people and made friends for life. Whenever visiting Glasgow, I feel like coming home!


Raaper, R., & Brown, C. (2020). The Covid-19 pandemic and the dissolution of the university campus: Implications for student support practice. Journal of Professional Capital and Community, (pre-print)

Raaper, R. (2020). Students' unions and consumerist policy discourses in English higher education. Critical Studies in Education, 61(2), 245-261.

Raaper, R. (2020). Constructing political subjectivity: The perspectives of sabbatical officers from English students’ unions. Higher Education, 79(1), 141-157

Raaper, R. (2019). Students as consumers? A counter perspective from student assessment as a disciplinary technology. Teaching in Higher Education, 24(1), 1-16

Raaper, R. (2018). ‘Peacekeepers’ and ‘machine factories’: Tracing graduate teaching assistant subjectivity in a neoliberalised university. British Journal of Sociology of Education, 39(4), 421-435