Helping mature students get ready for higher education

Last year, as part of AMOSSHE Insight – our commitment to a research agenda led by our members’ priorities – AMOSSHE supported a project by the University of Bradford about supporting mature students who are starting a higher education course.

AMOSSHE InsightThe project investigates the value for mature students of participating in a pre-arrival transition summer school, exploring the aspects of support that are most useful for mature students, and where additional or different support may be needed.

The project team at Bradford, led by Ruth Lefever (Student Experience Coordinator), undertook a literature review in the area of mature student transition support, and then gathered feedback from participants in the summer school through an online survey and in-depth interviews.

Writing on a laptop

The literature review showed that successful student transition and engagement at university is seen as key for retention and success. And most student participants in the project (over 90%) said that the summer school helped them prepare for university and improved their confidence. The summer school helped the students develop academic practices, and understand what was expected of them and what support they could draw on. It also helped students to build relationships and a sense of belonging, and confirmed their choice to go to university.

The project team made several recommendations for institutions based on student feedback about a pre-arrival summer school for mature students. Some of these include:

  • Utilise mature students’ experiences to be more aware of their issues.
  • Develop ongoing engagement activities / events to build on the summer school throughout the course.
  • Track the academic outcomes of summer school participants to demonstrate its value.
  • Expand the summer school idea to other student groups, for example those coming through clearing, or those arriving after the start of the academic year.

Read the full project research, findings and recommendations here: AMOSSHE Insight: understanding the value of a pre-arrival transition summer school for mature students.

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