Accessibility statement

Professor Paul Wakeling



I am a sociologist of education with particular interests in higher education, especially access to postgraduate study; and in social inequalities. My work has included analyses of the relationship between social class (and other inequalities) and postgraduate study; evaluation of initiatives to widen postgraduate participation; investigation of the association between student finance and participation; and of institutional hierarchies and stratification.

I joined the Department in 2008, after a previous career in higher education administration.

Departmental roles

I am currently Head of Department. I supervise undergraduate and postgraduate students.

University roles

Member of:

  • Access and Participation Steering Group
  • Planning Committee

Co-chair of the 'Delivering the Applicant Student Journey' workstream as part of the University's change programme.



My broad interests are in the sociology of education (especially higher education), social stratification and social mobility. My current research focuses on access to postgraduate study, especially social class, gender and ethnic inequalities; the background of academics; and institutional stratification in higher education. I use a range of research methods but have a particular interest in analysis of large secondary datasets and the use of administrative and transactional data for research.


I am currently working on:

  • selection and recruitment practices which support equity in doctoral education as part of the Yorkshire Consortium for Equity in Doctoral Education (with Bukola Oyinloye)
  • analysis of large-scale secondary data to investigate access to and outcomes from doctoral study (with Alice Dias Lopes)
  • patterns of EU student mobility to the UK (with Alice Dias Lopes)

Recent work has included:

Research group(s)


2022 - 2026 Yorkshire Consortium for Equity in Doctoral Education (lead for workstream on doctoral recruitment and selection; consortium PI: Kate Arnold)

2021 - 2022 BBSRC Inequalities in the Life Sciences Early Research Career (with Alice Dias Lopes)

2020 - 2021 Sutton Trust Social inequalities and access to postgraduate study (with Pep Mateos Gonzalez)

2020 - 2021 ESRC Review of the PhD in the Social Sciences (with CFE Research Ltd, York PI: Sally Hancock)

2017 - 2018 HEFCE/University of Leeds (£35,000) Evaluation of the Catalyst project Progression to, and success in postgraduate study, for students from BAME and POLAR 1 & 2 backgrounds (PI: Sally Hancock).

2016 HEFCE (£25,979) Evaluation of the Postgraduate Support Scheme 2015/16 (with Sally Hancock)


 I currently supervise five PhD students:

  • Abigail Bowling (ESRC funded) - social class, structure/agency and access to the teaching profession
  • Dorjee Khazi - the role of the head of department in higher education in the UK (jointly supervised with Dr Sally Hancock)
  • Chidi Okolo - the degree awarding gap and race/ethnicity (jointly supervised with Dr Constantino Dumangane Jr)
  • Alhareth Sait - internationalisation strategies in Saudi universities (jointly supervised with Dr Sally Hancock)
  • Jiqiong Sheng - international students in UK higher education and the identity of 'consumer' (jointly supervised with Dr Sally Hancock)

I have supervised the following successfully completed PhD theses:

External activities


  • Bridge Group Fellow
  • British Educational Research Association
  • British Sociological Association
  • Fellow, ESRC Peer Review College
  • Fellow of the Higher Education Academy
  • Society for Research into Higher Education

I am currently a member of the Centre for Transforming Access and Student Outcomes Academic Advisory Panel; and the University of Oxford Graduate Access Working Group.

I have previously been:

  • member of the Research England Postgraduate Research Mental Health and Wellbeing Catalyst Programme evaluation advisory group
  • member of the UK Council for Graduate Education's working group on postgraduate funding and resourcing
  • member of Universities UK's Social Mobility Advisory Group Academic Reference Group.
  • chair of the OFFA/OfS understanding evaluation steering group
  • member of the OFFA financial support project steering group
  • member of the ESRC's Grant Assessment Panel 'D' for the secondary data analysis initiative (open call) 2016-2017 and before that on the equivalent special initiative panels
  • trustee of the University of York Graduate Students' Association 2016 - 2017.


I have acted as a consultant to the Economic & Social Research Council in various capacities. I advised on staff and student demographics for their international benchmarking reviewsof social science research in the UK, and compiled a report on the impact of ESRC-funded research. I have worked with RCUK, UKRI and OfS, and with the Bridge Group on projects for the Wellcome Trust and the Royal Academy of Music.

Editorial duties

Executive Editor, British Journal of Sociology of Education

I was a member of the editorial board of Sociology from 2013 - 2019.

Invited talks and conferences

I have given more than 60 invited talks on the topic of widening participation and access to postgraduate study.

Contact details

Department of Education
University of York
YO10 5DD

Tel: +44 (0)1904 324329