In the article ‘Exploring the concept of ‘ideal’ university student’, Dr. Billy Wong (Associate Professor in Widening Participation) unpacks the notion of the ‘ideal’ university student as part of his British Academy/Leverhulme Trust-funded project, called Ideal Student.

Dr. Wong’s latest paper, co-authored with Dr. Tiffany Chiu from Imperial College London, discusses the working concept of the ideal student as a thinking tool to promote a more transparent conversation about the explicit, implicit and idealistic expectations of students in higher education. The paper stems from a position that believes implicit and unspoken expectations, especially from staff, can result in diverse but patterned student experiences, and contribute to wider social inequalities and reproductions. As such, by understanding how the ‘ideal’ student is constructed in specific contexts, staff and students can better recognise and address differences in their expectations.


The research, published in the Studies in Higher Education, sets out the conceptual backgrounds and meanings of the concept of the ideal student, in the context of higher education. The paper provides a critical and reflective analysis of the concerns as well as potentials afforded by this notion, with a working definition of the ‘ideal’ university student being ‘the desirable but realistic expectations of students in higher education; ideal is not about perfection, nor being the highest or the best’.

His open access article can be found here. For more information on Dr. Wong’s research, visit his staff profile page here. You can also follow him on Twitter here.



Wong, B., & Chiu, Y.L.T. (2019). Exploring the concept of ‘ideal’ university student. Studies in Higher Education.