Proposal Abstract

In an ageing society where retirement may need to be deferred, equity considerations mean that it is important to allow for the inclusion of an under-represented older cohort in higher education. Regional undergraduate students born before 1956 were invited to respond to an anonymous online questionnaire on being a university student in later life. Demographic information was collected – sex, place of residence, age group, any former university study, current study year and mode, and whether full or part time. Open-ended questions investigated study motivations, extra supports and facilities required, highlights of being a university student, negatives or challenges faced, contributions from their greater life experience, and how academic and administrative staff and other students related to them. Most still envisaged a vocational use for their new knowledge, skills, and targeted qualification. Respondents generally reported relating well to others in the university community. Conflicting priorities and some technological issues provided challenges. Past experiences helped them to relate theory learned to “the bigger picture”, and they felt able to make significant contributions to class discussions.

Location

Atrium/Concourse

Publication Type and Release Option

Presentation (Open Access)

 
Mar 8th, 4:00 PM Mar 8th, 5:45 PM

(Much) Older University Students: Their Study Motivations and Experiences

Atrium/Concourse

In an ageing society where retirement may need to be deferred, equity considerations mean that it is important to allow for the inclusion of an under-represented older cohort in higher education. Regional undergraduate students born before 1956 were invited to respond to an anonymous online questionnaire on being a university student in later life. Demographic information was collected – sex, place of residence, age group, any former university study, current study year and mode, and whether full or part time. Open-ended questions investigated study motivations, extra supports and facilities required, highlights of being a university student, negatives or challenges faced, contributions from their greater life experience, and how academic and administrative staff and other students related to them. Most still envisaged a vocational use for their new knowledge, skills, and targeted qualification. Respondents generally reported relating well to others in the university community. Conflicting priorities and some technological issues provided challenges. Past experiences helped them to relate theory learned to “the bigger picture”, and they felt able to make significant contributions to class discussions.