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In the present study, humanistic educational theory is juxtaposed against forms of socialization that run counter to its precepts and values. It is suggested that, in theory at least, humanistic principles (broadly defined) underpin UK preregistration mental health student training, but that in practice, humanist theory is subverted or destabilized by external social pressures. To support this claim, work by Margaret Archer on the hegemonic role of the state in educational resourcing, planning, and delivery is introduced. This paper questions the integrity and intelligibility of current student experience. It also presents a novel perspective on the theory-practice divide. Although the paper is UK specific, it nonetheless raises questions that are pertinent to nurse training in other countries, where the state plays a dominant coordinating role in service organization and delivery.