Another dimension

November 13, 2014

The article on the decline in mature students (“Across the ages”, Features, 6 November) resonates with me.

I left school at 16 and had a series of uninspiring office jobs. I went to night school to expand my knowledge and qualifications and by my early thirties, divorced and a single parent, found myself with the opportunity to study for a full-time degree in organisation studies courtesy of the University of Central Lancashire and the local authority.

Walking into the lecture theatre on my first day was terrifying – I was convinced that I would not survive the first term and that I was an interloper – but I loved every minute of university and our lecturers brought the subject to life. So much so that by the second year I had decided that a career in education was for me. I just missed out on a first before moving on to a master’s and a PhD at the University of Manchester Institute of Science and Technology.

I have been very fortunate and have worked in the higher education sector for more than 20 years in a variety of academic roles. Over that time, I have seen a dip in mature students in my tutorial groups. It is a sad indictment of our education system that now focuses specifically on youth as opposed to experience. Maturity adds that extra dimension in a tutorial group and enables younger students to gain an insight into life outside education.

Linda Higgins, principal lecturer
Manchester Metropolitan University

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