Having a sense of belonging means that you are part of wherever you are. In schools and universities this is important. If you are a university student, but you do not really feel part of the university, then this might affect your motivation. Educators often talk about sense of belonging, but it is not easy to find scales on sense of belonging for studies with university students. Fortunately, there is the study by Mantz Yorke from Lancaster University in the United Kingdom.

This advertisement video of the University of Utah focuses on "sense of belonging". It focuses on how the university encourages the student to feel at home.

This is the first questionnaire that measures sensoe of belonging in higher education. This questionnaire has been developed using thousands of university students.

Some key findings from the sample in the UK are quoted (literally) from the 2016 study by Yorke:

  • Males were more self-confident than females, but less academically engaged.

  • Older students were more engaged and self-confident than their younger peers.

  • Students who were not the first in their immediate family to enter higher education tended to be more self-confident than those who had no immediate family experience of higher education.

  • Students who had declared a disability to their university were lower in self-confidence than those who had not.

  • White British students had a stronger sense of belonging than those with other ethnic backgrounds (though the latter were more self-confident, probably because of a relationship between ethnicity and place of domicile).

  • Students who had entered higher education from outside the UK tended to be more self-confident, probably because they had already had to deal with the challenge of moving to study in a different country.

  • Students who were comparatively little disadvantaged by the circumstances surrounding their study tended to have a stronger sense of belonging and more self-confidence than peers who had had more difficulties to overcome.

How to interprete scores

There are 16 questions which are averaged into three different scales, namely:

  1. Belongingness (items 2, 4, 7, 11, 14 and 15)

  2. Engagement (items 1, 5, 6, 8, 10, and 12)

  3. Self-confidence (items 3, 9, 13, and 16)

Because the score ranges from Strongly Agree to Strongly disagree, the 5-point scale is calculated from 5 to 1. This means that a higher score on belongingness means more belongingness (note the scores in the scale: besagree line).

When the questionnaire was tested with 2,841 students in Autum 2013, the average scores were as follows:

Subscale Mean score







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It seems that the BES can be used for research, but you need to acknowledge the authors and their research paper when writing about it (References).


This is a simple scale question with some reverse coded items.

The survey code for PsyToolkit

Copy and paste this code to your PsyToolkit account if you want to use the scale in your own online research project
scale: besagree
- {score=5} Strongly Agree
- {score=4} Tend to Agree
- {score=3} Neutral
- {score=2} Tend to Disagree
- {score=1} Strongly Disagree

l: bes
t: scale besagree
o: boxes
q: For each item below, indicate how much you agree or disagree
- I am motivated towards my studies
- I feel at home in this university
- I expect to do well on my programme
- Being at this university is an enriching experience
- I try to make connections between what I learn from different parts of my programme
- I try to do a bit more on the programme than it asks me to
- {reverse} I wish I’d gone to a different university
- I seek out academic staff in order to discuss topics relevant to my programme
- {reverse} I worry about the difficulty of my programme
- I put a lot of effort into the work I do
- I have found this department to be welcoming
- I use feedback on my work to help me improve what I do
- {reverse} I doubt my ability to study at university level
- I am shown respect by members of staff in this department
- {reverse} Sometimes I feel I don’t belong in this university
- I’m confident of completing my programme successfully

l: belongingness
t: set
- mean $bes.2 $bes.4 $bes.7 $bes.11 $bes.14 $bes.15

l: engagement
t: set
- mean $bes.1 $bes.5 $bes.6 $bes.8 $bes.10 $bes.12

l: selfconfidence
t: set
- mean $bes.3 $bes.9 $bes.13 $bes.16

l: feedback
t: info
q: All scores can range between 1 and 5
Your score on Belongingness is {$belongingness}
Your score on Engagement is {$engagement}
Your score on Self-Confidence is {$selfconfidence}


  • Yorke, M. (2016). The development and initial use of a survey of student ‘belongingness’, engagement and self-confidence in UK higher education. Assessment & Evaluation in Higher Education, 41(1), 154-166, DOI: 10.1080/02602938.2014.990415. Open access link.