Through the case-study experiences of 24 White and Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) working-class students from three very different universities, we aim to illuminate the often hidden struggle for recognition and respect for classed, ‘raced’ and gendered ways of being in the university. We discuss how the students perceive their identities in relation to their universities and their peers, and whether they feel the need to adapt and change their classed/’racialised’ identities in order to survive and progress or whether they resist any pressures and expectations to do so. We explore the tension between ‘assimilation and belonging’ and ‘betrayal and exclusion’ for White and BAME working-class students and consider the intersectional implications. We draw on the concept of hybridity to show the fluidity and fusions of transitioning and developing identities. The article also seeks to contribute further to the illumination of habitus as generative, through a process of hybridity.