Studying at university is exciting and challenging for all students, it is a process whereby students develop and build identities (Laming et al, 2019). However, university education should not just be the preserve of eighteen-year-olds leaving full-time education from sixth forms and colleges. Mature students bring a richness and diversity to the higher education community, with a range of life experiences, which allow for a greater understanding of the world around us.
This research project explored how mature students felt about studying at the University of Warwick, what their journey was to get to university and their views on how we may better support them whilst they are here. Mature student numbers have been in serious decline over the past 10 years, with a 22 per cent drop in those entering higher education (OfS, 2020). Moreover, the devastating impact of the part-time fees in 2012 has decimated mature student parttime enrolment (70 per cent drop) (Fraser & Harman, 2019).
Mature students are more likely to be from diverse backgrounds, with research demonstrating that they are ‘more likely to be female, BME, to hold non-traditional qualifications and to come from lower socio-economic backgrounds than young students’ (NUS, 2012: 7). Students who are classed as mature are also more likely to drop out of their courses, and less likely to gain a ‘good’ degree classification. Furthermore, they are much more likely to have additional caring or financial responsibilities (Pearce, 2017)