Experiences of Peer-victimization and Teacher Support in Secondary School predict University Enrolment Five Years Later: Role of School Engagement

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Abstract

Background
Peer victimization has an adverse effect on academic outcomes. However, longitudinal research on how peer victimization affects access to higher education is lacking.

Aims
In this study, we investigated the mechanisms through which peer victimization and teacher support affect aspirations for and enrolment at university 5 years later through engagement in secondary school. We also examined whether these effects were moderated by ethnicity, and whether teacher support may compensate for the effects of peer victimization.

Sample
The sample (N = 15,110, 51% male, 68% White, 12% Black and 20% Asian) was drawn from a nationally representative study of young people in England. We used data from four waves, following adolescents over 3 years of secondary education (T1–T2–T3, age 13 to 15 years) until university (T4, age 18 years).

Method
Data were analysed in a longitudinal structural equation model in Mplus 8.

Results
Adolescents subjected to more peer victimization at T1 had lower university aspirations 2 years later and were less likely to attend university 5 years later. These effects were mediated via secondary school engagement. Teacher support at T1 was related to higher school engagement, leading to higher aspirations (T3) and higher likelihood of university enrolment (T4) over time. We also found evidence that teacher support may lessen the effect of peer victimization on school engagement, and that ethnic background may moderate the effect of teacher support.

Conclusions
Peer victimization had a small long-lasting negative effect on university choices via school engagement, while teacher support had a positive effect. In summary, relationships in secondary school have long-lasting implications for university aspirations and enrolment.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere12500
JournalBritish Journal of Educational Psychology
Early online date25 Mar 2022
DOIs
Publication statusEarly online date - 25 Mar 2022

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