Magazine article Times Higher Education

Comic Strip Lays Bare Student Loan Worries

Magazine article Times Higher Education

Comic Strip Lays Bare Student Loan Worries

Article excerpt

UK students turn academic research on graduate debt into a full-length comic. Jack Grove reports

Is it possible to say anything new about student debt in the UK?

With countless politicians, activists, academics, commentators and undergraduates having their say on the tuition fee hikes introduced in 2012, it has become much harder for those researching the issue to make an impact with their findings, even if the subject remains as relevant as ever.

Given the ubiquity of student debt discussions over the past six years, one education researcher decided not to change what she studies, but the medium in which it was communicated.

Employing student artists at her institution, Katy Vigurs, associate professor of higher and professional education at Staffordshire University, has created a "research-informed comic" to illustrate the experiences and anxieties of students now graduating from the £9,000-a-year fee system.

Having published and presented the results from her research, based on interviews with students who had left university with higher debts, in the normal way (journal articles, conference talks), Dr Vigurs wondered whether her work might be better served by a more unusual format.

"The findings were very sobering, but also very visual as students described very graphically how the issue of student finance was affecting them," she explained.

"It made me think [that] a more visual medium might work, so I contacted our university's visual arts department," she added. …

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