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Higher education student motivations for extracurricular activities: evidence from UK universities

Chapman, Gary; Emambocus, Washad; Obembe, Demola


Washad Emambocus

Demola Obembe


Higher education students are required to demonstrate value beyond their curricula achievements to secure jobs in increasingly competitive labour markets. Focusing on extracurricular activities as one-way students can do so, this paper uses a motivation perspective to examine what drives students to engage in extracurricular activities, and how student motivation varies between early and late-stage students. We conducted 46 in-depth interviews with students in a post-92 widening-participation university and found that four motivations – extrinsic, intrinsic, social, and pro-social – explained extracurricular participation. The motivations varied across types of extracurricular activities; extrinsic motivation was prominent for employment, academic, society and volunteering extracurriculars; intrinsic and social motivations were vital for sports and societies; and pro-social motivation for academic, volunteering, and society extracurriculars. Moreover, we found important differences between the motivations of early-year and final-year students, suggesting that motivations vary across the university journey. Our paper contributes to the literature on extracurricular activities within higher education by providing new evidence on the motivations that propel students to engage in (different) activities in the current marketised higher education environment and by identifying the level of study as an important boundary condition shaping motivations for extracurricular participation.


Chapman, G., Emambocus, W., & Obembe, D. (2023). Higher education student motivations for extracurricular activities: evidence from UK universities. Journal of Education and Work, 36(2), 138-152.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Jan 10, 2023
Online Publication Date Jan 27, 2023
Publication Date Jan 1, 2023
Deposit Date Jan 16, 2023
Publicly Available Date Jul 2, 2024
Journal Journal of Education and Work
Print ISSN 1363-9080
Electronic ISSN 1469-9435
Publisher Routledge
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 36
Issue 2
Pages 138-152
Keywords Organizational Behavior and Human Resource Management; Public Administration; Education
Public URL
Publisher URL
Additional Information This is an Accepted Manuscript of an article published by Taylor & Francis in Journal of Education and Work on 27 January 2023, available at:


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