An investigation into mature students' experiences

Our project investigated the experiences of mature students at NTU and how the institution can better support these individuals with specific regard to non-continuation.

Students interacting

  • Aim

    The aim of this project was to increase NTU’s understanding of patterns of non-continuation of mature students and investigate mature students’ experiences and to identify practices from the literature and other Higher Education Institutions that might be useful to consider at NTU.

  • What it was

    Students were recruited for participation via campus-wide advertising and in total 24 mature students were interviewed in a semi-structured schedule. Student interest in participation in this project was high—over 200 mature students expressed an interest in being interviewed—so a supplementary online questionnaire was developed to ensure that all interested students had the opportunity to contribute to the study should they wish, of which 50 students responded.

    In the interviews attendees were asked to annotate maps of their home campus in response to their use of NTU spaces and facilities and highlight their ‘base campus’ which was most frequently used by them.

  • Why

    Non-continuation rates are higher amongst mature undergraduates than their younger counterparts and retention of mature students is an ongoing, sector-wide concern in the UK. At Nottingham Trent University (NTU), non-continuation of mature students is a key component within the institutional Access and Participation Plan (APP).

  • Headline findings

    Mature students at NTU report a subtle but persistent sense of othering

    1. An enhanced mature student’s induction process could assist in supporting mature students to have a more effective providing them with contextual information about the activities and services they wish to participate in.
    2. The involvement of staff members to act as Mature Student Champions to offer support for those seeking information on financial issues, housing, NECS and placements.

    Mature students at NTU experience challenges in finding the time and space needed to study

    1. Demand for mature students for a separate, quiet, accessible area in the University is high. Ring-fencing a dedicated zone may assist mature students in maintaining a comfortable work-life balance.

    Mature students are more likely to blame themselves for their strategic choices and not seek remedy or support within the institution when issues arise

    1. It is important to understand why mature students choose NTU in the first place and the degree to which they feel responsible for their own outcomes.
    2. A mature students’ pledge offers the opportunity to outline support available to mature students and may encourage help-seeking by framing the accessing of the support in terms of students’ entitlement and NTU’s expectations.

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