“I think I exactly know why I am here”: What do mature female students tell us about their experiences on a Foundation Programme?

David Stoten*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The concept of the ideal student is one that has generated much research across many disciplines across the globe and continues to stimulate debate about teaching and learning within higher education. This paper explores the concept of the ideal student in relation to the experiences of mature female students enrolled onto a Foundation Programme in Business and Management. Although some Foundation Programmes are intended to recruit international students, most are conceived for school-leavers who are deemed to be the ideal cohort for this programme by the university. As such, there exists the potential for a disconnect between the concept of an ideal student which is generally associated with an implied curriculum model and the experiences of mature students. This paper explored the experiences of mature female students on a Foundation Programme at an English Business School that prepares students for undergraduate study. The research involved interviews with five mature female students, three of whom are mothers. The findings were analysed using Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis and challenges the concept of the ideal student as useful theoretical model upon which to construct the curriculum. This paper also conceptualises the mature student learning journey through the PIPE support model.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-17
Number of pages17
JournalInternational Journal of Lifelong Education
Early online date31 May 2024
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 31 May 2024

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