n South African Journal of Higher Education - Theorising research with vulnerable people in higher education : ethical and methodological challenges

Volume 28, Issue 2
  • ISSN : 1011-3487



University students experience varying forms of vulnerability, which could have negative consequences for fulfilling their academic potential. The voices of these vulnerable students have not been adequately captured in existing research and can be best sought through qualitative research which targets the very students experiencing such vulnerabilities. This article, framed within the conceptual theory of vulnerability, uses Narrative Theory as a methodological approach to explore how university students experience the phenomenon of being at risk; how they cope with it; and how their narratives of vulnerability can inform student retention and support in higher education institutions (HEIs). Being at risk is a multidimensional concept, which is dealt with inadequately in institutional ethics policy and practice. The preliminary findings suggested that students at risk feel marginalised form mainstream support services. Further, the evidence suggested that doctoral students' training reproduces the marginalisation of vulnerability through inadequately addressing ways of researching with vulnerable people.

Loading full text...

Full text loading...


Article metrics loading...


This is a required field
Please enter a valid email address
Approval was a Success
Invalid data
An Error Occurred
Approval was partially successful, following selected items could not be processed due to error