The importance of mature, part-time students to higher education in the U.K.
- Cite this article as:
- Broomfield, C. High Educ (1993) 25: 189. doi:10.1007/BF01384748
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This paper assesses the contribution made by mature part-time students to the statistics on higher education. It shows that part-time numbers currently account for approximately 40% of total student numbers in the UK, 33% of university students, (mostly in the Open University) and 43% of the total in polytechnics and colleges, (1989–90 figures). The majority are mature people, over 25 years of age, who combine both education and employment. The principal change over the past ten years has been the increasing proportion of women, who now form more than 44% of the total number of students and 42% of the part-time total. A theoretical analysis is carried out, using the Human Capital model, which shows that part-time higher education might produce significant rates of return, both to the individual and society. It is noted that most of the research efforts in the UK, into the benefits of higher education, have concentrated on young, 18–21 year olds, who study full-time, and that current government policy is primarily concerned with improving the participation rate of this age group. This paper concludes that there is sufficient evidence to warrant a more thorough investigation of the costs and benefits of part-time study and suggests that there is considerable potential for expansion in this area.