The experience of undergraduate mature students studying for a degree in a college of further education: a life history approach

Jacks-Cobbold, Frances (2018) The experience of undergraduate mature students studying for a degree in a college of further education: a life history approach. Doctoral thesis, University of East Anglia.

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Higher education in the United Kingdom has undergone considerable change following the publication of the Robbins Report (1963). One of the transformational changes that has occurred is a move towards widening participation, which has included an increase in the number of mature students as well as those from diverse backgrounds.
The opportunities that a degree-level education offers are well documented. However, returning to education following a break can be daunting, particularly for those who have had a long gap in their education or who have had negative educational experiences. Returning to education for mature students presents other risk factors both financial and social. Unlike traditional students, mature students have specific needs associated with maturity. At a personal level, an increase in confidence and self-esteem as well as changes in their sense of self may also impact on other members of their family. Nonetheless, for many, the decision to return to education can also be life changing, as my thesis will show.
Within the policy and political context of the expansion of higher education since the Robbins Report (1963), this study offers an interpretative analysis which explores, illustrates, interprets and illuminates the educational experiences of full-time mature students undertaking their first undergraduate degree in a college of Further Education.
The participant narratives begin with their early educational experiences and thence to their reasons for entering higher education, and the impact that
this has had on their lives. The participants are all first-generation entrants to higher education who have entered higher education with an array of transferable skills and life experiences that they have accrued, without involving any form of academic accreditation.
A life history/narrative methodology was adopted because it generated in this instance, rich and deep data. The participants were interviewed in relatively open-ended ways, the aim being to build the confidence and trust (rapport) that is essential in eliciting personal, ingenuous responses. It is a process that enables the interviewee to tell their story in a thoughtful and reflective way, whilst the interviewer adopts a non-judgemental stance. The point about building confidence and trust in the interview relationship is that it creates a situation where people can be open and honest about their experiences - they can tell it like it is.
The completed interviews (vignettes) reveal a number of positive experiences, such as an increase in self-confidence and self-esteem, highlighting how many of the participants appear to shape and construct their own sense of identity, development and life-course. On the other hand, the data also emphasises a number of problematic areas, which include finance and the challenges of fitting full-time study in and around other commitments such as childcare and employment.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Faculty \ School: Faculty of Social Sciences > School of Education and Lifelong Learning
Depositing User: Zoe White
Date Deposited: 03 Jan 2020 09:41
Last Modified: 03 Jan 2020 09:41

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