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The Mystery of the Missing Men

How Do Young Men Experience "Belong-ing" in Higher Education

Vicki Trowler, Robert Allan and Rukhsana Din

There is something of a moral panic about the relative paucity of men in higher education in many countries. Closer examination shows that it is often men from subordinate groups in their contexts, such as working-class men (in the UK context) or African men (in the South African context) who are most underrepresented. This article draws on research in Scotland, South Africa and England to examine the experiences of young men positioned as “nontraditional” in their localized HE contexts who do attend university. Our studies found their experience of “belong-ing” to be mediated by their underrepresentation, as well as constructions of masculinity at system/context or at individual/group level. Understanding the latter can help ameliorate the effects of the former.