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Lets' Talk About Classism

Get Involved

What events are happening?

Your Part Time Officer for Widening Participation Students, Kieran Barry, has organised 4 events to form part of the "Lets' Talk About Classism" event series. You can find more about the events below:

Wednesday 26 April 2023, 2.00pm - 4.00pm: 
Let's Talk about Classism: Widening Participation Community Event (Free Pizza and Soft Drinks) (warwicksu.com)

Thursday 27 April 2023, 1.00pm - 2.00pm:
Let's Talk about Classism: What is Widening Participation and How can Higher Education Communities advance further? A talk from Lee Elliott Major OBE (warwicksu.com)

Thursday 04 May 2023, 1.00pm - 2.00pm:
 Let's Talk about Classism: How does class impact the experience and voice of WP Students? With insights from Kieran Barry, Thalia Sheriff-Horner & Report and Support (warwicksu.com)

Thursday 11 May 2023, 1.00pm - 2.00pm:
Let's Talk about Classism: How does class impact labour market prospects & what more can be done? With Sarah Atkinson (warwicksu.com)

Other Ways to get involved:

Check out our series of videos to accompany the campaign below! We have the first one embedded, and the rest of them will first go live on @warwicksuofficial - both on Tiktok and Instagram, so keep your eyes peeled. 

@warwicksuofficial Let’s Talk about Classism ??? We chatted with Kieran Barry (Widening Participation Officer) and other Widening Participation students about their experiences of classism at Warwick. Funded by the Warwick Innovation Fund, Kieran has also organised various events throughout Term 3 so people can come together and discuss the impact of class and socioeconomic status within Warwick. Head to our website to find out more. #warwick #warwickuni #warwickuniversity #warwickstudents #classism #letstalkaboutclassism #LTAC #wideningparticipation ? original sound - Warwick Students' Union
@warwicksuofficial ??? “I was described as a parasite on society” Kieran (Widening Participation Officer) and other Widening Participation students share their personal experiences with classism within Warwick. Visit our website to find out more about the Let’s Talk About Classism campaign, and how you can get involved. #warwick #warwicksu #warwickuni #warwickuniversity #warwickstudents #classism #letstalkaboutclassism #wideningparticipation ? original sound - Warwick Students' Union
@warwicksuofficial ???“Warwick is very good at celebrating diversity, but I think it forgets that there is diversity for a socio-economic perspective.” Kieran (Widening Participation Officer) and other Widening Participation students discuss how students and staff from the SU and University could further support the WP students at Warwick. #warwick #warwicksu #warwickuni #warwickuniversity #warwickstudents #classism #wideningparticipation ? original sound - Warwick Students' Union

 We asked some students from Widening Participation backgrounds what their experiences of indirect and direct classism looked like, and what effective allyship means to them. The videos will be added below as they are added to our social media.

Additionally, there are a range of societies affiliated with the SU which you can join which focus on social mobility and Widening Participation – these include:

The 93% Club Warwick - https://www.warwicksu.com/societies-sports/societies/59901/

BASE Law - https://www.warwicksu.com/societies-sports/societies/basely/

Warwick Inspire - https://www.warwicksu.com/societies-sports/societies/inspire/

What is Classism & Further Information

What is Classism?

Classism in dictionaries is often defined as "a belief that a person's social or economic station in society determines their value in that society" , "behavior that reflects this belief prejudice or discrimination based on class" or "the systemic oppression of the lower class and middle class to the advantage of the upper class"*. And whilst all true , all of the different definitions almost always miss the ways in which classism continues to be perpetuated throughout the world, even in today. Classism, much like any  other form of prejudice or discrimination, often holds a mix of institutional, embedded causes, but also often can find itself woven unintentionally into everyday life. 

To give you an idea of what Classism can look like, we've partnered up with the 93% club at warwick, and other WP students, to create the board below, in which students have answered in their own words "What is classism" and "What does it look like?"

*Definitions from Merriem Webster Dictionary


Made with Padlet

What does Classism look like?

Classism can take many different forms, as shown above. It can be indirect or direct, embedded into institutions and communities, and also affects many of the students within our own community.

Within the university, indirect classism can involve unequal access to certain opportunities to students from working-class and/or Widening Participation backgrounds, or indirectly cause discomfort or upset without intention. Practically, this can look like restrictive prices to accessing societies and sports clubs, questioning why someone is working so much alongside their degree, commenting on someone having not been on a particular holiday when they have been unable to afford it… The prior instance can exclude members of the university community from taking part in opportunities due to their financial situation, and the latter instances can potentially cause upset or stress without intention as they relate to an individual’s financial situation – which may be very different to your own.

Direct classism includes microaggressions and other forms of discrimination against members of the Widening Participation community at Warwick, or said against members of the working-class within society. These can include comments directly calling an individual ‘poor’, equating working-class individuals with lower intelligence, associating certain classes with cultures of violence, commenting on how someone cannot afford luxury clothing… These are comments that would directly cause offence to individuals from those backgrounds, and which do cause discomfort to Warwick students when they are said directly to them, or said about their upbringing and socioeconomic background.

Additionally, students from working-class backgrounds can also be having difficulties with external sources of potential classism. These include opportunities gaps in graduate recruitment, for example. Students from these backgrounds generally have less accessibility to resources which may support them in their jobs searches during their time at Warwick. These include smaller professional networks, lack of opportunities to practise interviewing techniques, and inability to access paid interviewing support schemes or books which would help with applications. As there is an additional underrepresentation of ‘socially mobile’ employees within certain fields, such as law, consulting, and finance, this can also create difficulties for these students to connect with interviewers, or interviewers may hold unconscious biases. This creates unequal opportunities within the graduate labour market which Widening Participation students also have to face.

Frequently Asked Questions

What does Widening Participation mean?

You may:

  • Be originally from an area and community where progression to Higher Education is low (classed as LPN - Low Participation Neighbourhoods and Indices of Multiple Deprivation (IMD)).

  • Come from a low socio-economic background.

  • Be the first generation of your family to enter Higher Education.

  • Be a care leaver or estranged student.

  • Be a Young Carer.

What is "Lets' Talk About Classism"?

Let's Talk about Classism is a campaign ran by your Widening Participation Officer throughout Term 3, to encourage and allow space to come together and discuss the impact of class and socioeconomic status on the opportunities and experiences of Warwick students. These are not only the student opportunities directly available to us, but also on the experiences and unintentional or intentional discrimination that occurs around both the National Student movement, as well as specifically during our time studying at the University of Warwick. 

Let's Talk about Classism will explore 3 key themes throughout the following weeks. It will also aim to offer room to bring together the Widening Participation community, and to help enhance and grow a student and staff network to fuller engagement and discussion of Classism and the experiences of it here on campus. 

The three key themes are as follows:

  • Higher Education Communities
  • Student Experience
  • Graduate Outcomes


You can get involved with Let’s Talk About Classism, and find out more, by viewing the Campaigns Page here!

How Can I find out more?

Resources are important to learn more about the issue, and how society and communities can move forward. If you would like to find out more, here are some initial resources to do so. Many of the resources focus more generally on the impact of class on opportunities and outcomes, with classism being a topic of conversation which comes under these topics.


BBC, ‘How to Crack the Class Ceiling’: https://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episodes/m001fygr/how-to-crack-the-class-ceiling

TedxOxford, ‘Social Mobility and Inequality: A Dance With the Devil?’: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1oe-7uBFxOI&ab_channel=TEDxTalks

The Economist, ‘Why it’s harder to earn more than your parents’: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T1FdIvLg6i4&ab_channel=TheEconomist


Research from the Sutton Trust - https://www.suttontrust.com/our-research/

The Social Mobility Commission information (especially their research and policy papers): https://www.gov.uk/government/organisations/social-mobility-commission

Warwick Social Mobility Student Research Hub: https://warwick.ac.uk/study/outreach/studentprojects/conferenceandstudentprojects


‘The Class Ceiling: Why it Pays to be Privileged’, Sam Friedman and Daniel Laurison

‘Social Class in the 21st Century’, by Mike Savage

‘Social Mobility: And Its Enemies’, Lee Elliot Major and Stephen Machin


Warwick Innovation Funding Information

About the Innovation Fund

Warwick Students' Union's "Lets Talk About Classism" Campaign & Events series is powered by alumni support through the Warwick Innovation Fund.