NotesFAQContact Us
Search Tips
ERIC Number: ED561337
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2015-Jul
Pages: 62
Abstractor: ERIC
Reference Count: 31
"Shoe-Horned and Side-Lined"? Challenges for Part-Time Learners in the New HE Landscape
Butcher, John
Higher Education Academy
This research set out to investigate the part-time student experience of higher education across the United Kingdom, in the context of a well-publicised contraction in the sector, and increasing divergence between policies affecting part-time study in the four nations. In order to explore the part-time student experience in England, Scotland, and Northern Ireland, the first stage of this research consisted of a 25 question online survey. In exploring why learners studied part-time, a clear message emerged that notions of "choice" were relatively meaningless: choosing part-time was effectively an illusion because students were faced with "Hobson's choice"--it was either part-time or nothing. Most respondents admitted to preferring the idea of full-time study, but believed the cost was too great; they could not afford to give up a job when they had extensive family outgoings, and in many cases they were debt-averse. Five key themes emerged from the interviews: (1) flexibility; (2) motivation; (3) student community; (4) information, advice, and guidance; and (5) disciplinary differences. Across the United Kingdom, there is a knowledge gap around the experiences of, and barriers faced, by part-time mature students in higher education. Policymakers need to listen to these experiences and carve out a space in which the needs and aspirations of disadvantaged learners in this heterogeneous sector can be properly considered. The following are appended: (1) Interview and focus group instrument; (2) Preliminary analysis of combined OU and NUS Wales survey responses; and (3) Descriptive statistics of OU data for England, Scotland, and Northern Ireland.
Higher Education Academy. York Science Park, Innovation Way, Heslington, York Y010 5BR, United Kingdom. Tel: 01904 717500; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Reports - Research; Tests/Questionnaires
Education Level: Higher Education; Postsecondary Education
Audience: Policymakers
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: Higher Education Academy (HEA) (United Kingdom); Open University (United Kingdom)
Identifiers - Location: United Kingdom; United Kingdom (England); United Kingdom (Northern Ireland); United Kingdom (Scotland); United Kingdom (Wales)