Letter: Students deserve a better deal 2

February 8, 2002

Provision of information, particularly on funding and timetabling, is only one part of what is needed to reverse the fall in mature student enrolments ("Adults see further study as a costly risk", THES , February 1).

From my experience of recurrent employment difficulties after obtaining an MSc as a mature student, the adverse perceptions of potential applicants seem realistic. Not nearly enough is done to identify how mature applicants can best use higher education facilities, to provide courses meeting these needs and to help career progression.

Many courses are inadequately designed. While 18-year-olds have little option but to study further if they are to get good employment, mature students will vote with their feet. The financial risks involved in full-time study must be shared by the government and employers rather than loaded on individuals.

Researchers funded by government are perhaps wary of making recommendations that cost money. But higher education has become so underfunded that potential mature students are walking away.

Frederic Stansfield

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