Part-time 'Others'

June 17, 2010

It is excellent to see that part-time study has finally made the headlines ("The Cinderella students" et al, 10 June). Despite being one of the foci of the UK's widening-participation agenda, the experiences of part-time students have received little attention from scholars, particularly in a comparative context.

In my research in this field, which explores student-feedback data going back over a decade, I have attempted to identify the main themes of part-time experience at a number of institutions and how it compares and contrasts with the full-time experience.

Several of the main themes correspond to the findings of the Higher Education Careers Service Unit and Birkbeck, University of London, plus recent unsung work by Mantz Yorke and Bernard Longden (2008).

However, there is also an important question of identity. My work indicates that many part-timers have a sense of themselves being ignored or at worst marginalised: are they the "Other" in contemporary higher education?

James Williams, Birmingham City University.

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