A Sustainable Higher Education Sector: The Place for Mature and Part-Time Students?
UK higher education continues to see a decline in the number of part-time, mature students. Much of the blame for the decline is attributed to a lack of financial support with many students unwilling to add to their existing financial commitments at a time of significantly declining employer sponsorship. These changes represent a profound social challenge when sustainable UK economic performance needs to be addressed through a boost in productivity, which in turn requires a highly educated workforce. Part-time study provides an invaluable route into higher education for many individuals. However, fitting study around other commitments makes it difficult for many students to fully participate or integrate. In this chapter, we chart the rise and fall of mature and part-time student provision across UK higher education before drawing on our own research to evidence the challenges facing institutions in helping them to develop a sense of belonging, fundamental to student retention and success. In doing so, we highlight the need for greater consideration of both individual academic and social needs at an institutional level to support the determination and high levels of motivation the students demonstrate. We end this chapter by positing a set of practical recommendations designed to support institutions working to support both mature and part-time students and, as a result, a more sustainable higher education sector.
KeywordsHigher education Part-time Mature UK economy Sense of belonging
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