Navigating the First Year at an English University: Exploring the Experiences of Mature Students Through the Lens of Transition Theory

Rick Hayman*, Karl Wharton, Laura Bell, Livia Bird

*Corresponding author for this work

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Previous research has revealed how mature students are more likely to drop out of university education, achieve poorer degree outcomes and have greater family, financial, caring and work commitments to contend with than their younger peers. In response to calls for further empirical work on mature students’ university experiences and informed theoretically by Transition Theory, the primary study aim was to explore the day-to-day encounters of 12 newly enrolled undergraduate mature students as they completed their first year of study at an English university in a post pandemic era. Supportive with previous research, participants were found to be academically but not socially and emotionally engaged. Having placed significant time and effort into their studies and achieved relative academic success, their expectations of university life were only partly met with most encountering a socially, emotionally and financially challenging first year. Practical implications for developing increasingly flexible and relational rich modes of educational provision that best address and support the needs, abilities, motivations, and expectations of mature students as they complete their university studies in a digital world are provided, as are future research avenues and limitations.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)39-51
Number of pages13
JournalInternational Journal of Lifelong Education
Issue number1
Early online date7 Jan 2024
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2024

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