University of St Andrews


Helen Packwood

Photo of Helen Packwood


Supervisors: Dr Nissa Finney, Dr David McCollum and Dr Katy Keenan


Research Title

What is the role of geography, ethnicity and poverty on educational transitions and trajectories?


This project explores the experiences and outcomes of school leavers across Scotland. It seeks to shed light on the factors which influence initial destinations and longer-term trajectories. The research is situated within debates about the (re)production of inequalities and the need to understand the processes which may lead to cumulative disadvantage.nd resist their ethnic identity and ultimately why this matters. It will use both qualitative and quantitative methods to better understand how young people form (and re-form) their ethnic identities as they transition to adulthood.


I graduated with an honours degree in Geography from the University of St Andrews in 2004. In the same year, I travelled to Mysore India to undertake a course in Community Development. The programme of study explored the theoretical underpinnings of aid and development and incorporated two practical placements. My experiences abroad set my undergraduate study in context and I witnessed first-hand the impact of issues I had studied - post-colonialism, climate change, health, mass migration, poverty and the resulting inequalities. On my return the UK I was awarded a scholarship to complete an MSc in Urban and Regional Planning. My Masters thesis assessed the impact of Community Planning in Scotland, looking specifically at health inequalities.

My research and teaching interests have been nurtured by experience in a wide variety of settings over the past ten years. I have pursued interests in migration and health, international development and education. I returned to St Andrews in August 2013 as a Research Fellow and worked on several ESRC projects within the Centre for Population Change. In October 2015 I started a three year PhD programme and will be conducting research into the educational transitions of young people in Scotland.

Recent publications

Findlay, A. M., McCollum, D., & Packwood, H. (2017). Marketization, marketing and the production of international student migration. International Migration55(3), 139-155. Link here

Findlay, A., Prazeres, L., McCollum, D., & Packwood, H. (2016). It was always the plan’: international study as ‘learning to migrate.  AreaLink here

Packwood H, Findlay A, McCollum D, McGowan, T (eds.) (2015) International study for an international career: a survey of the motivations and aspirations of international students in the UK. Centre for Population Change Briefing Paper SeriesPDF here

Tindal, S., Packwood, H., Findlay, A., Leahy, S., & McCollum, D. (2015). In what sense ‘distinctive’? The search for distinction amongst cross-border student migrants in the UK. Geoforum64, 90-99.  Link here

Packwood, H. (2015). Book Review: The Price of Rights: Regulating International Labour Migration by Martin Ruhs. Princeton University Press, Princeton, NJ, 2013. No. of pages: 272. Price:£ 24.95 (hardback). ISBN: 9780691132914.  Link here

Packwood, H., Findlay, A., & McCollum, D. (2014). Engaging with immigration policy on the ground: a study of Local Authorities in Scotland.  PDF here

Packwood, H., & Findlay, A. (2014). Immigration to Scotland and the constitutional change debate: Geography, difference and the question of scale.  PDF here