A mature reply to adult access cuts? Give up

Withdrawing state support for access to higher education courses will stop thousands of prospective mature students from attending university, a report has warned.

May 24, 2012

Under current plans, adults over the age of 24 will be forced to pay for the entire cost of level 3 studies - such as A levels or their equivalents - when 50 per cent of direct funding is removed in 2013-14.

However, the cuts are likely to have serious knock-on effects for universities dependent on mature students, according to a study published on 22 May that was compiled by the National Union of Students and Million+, the group that represents many post-1992 universities.

Based on a poll of almost 4,000 mature students, the report, Never Too Late to Learn: Mature Students in Higher Education, found that nearly two-thirds of mature undergraduates who apply to university with level 3 qualifications had completed them after the age of 24.

"The prospect of either paying higher level 3 course fees upfront or taking on one or two years of further education fee loans as a precondition for entry ... is likely to act as a major disincentive," it says.

Patrick McGhee, vice-chancellor of the University of East London and chair of Million+, said politicians needed to realise that mature students were a "major part" of higher education.

"The debate is always centred on 17- or 18-year-olds. Mature students are completely off the radar," he said.

"We want the government to see mature students as an important part of social mobility."

The report comes after an 11 per cent decline in the number of university applications by prospective mature students for 2012-13 entry.

Those from sixth-formers fell by just 1.6 per cent.

Professor McGhee said that the study also set out to "bust many myths about mature students".

For instance, only 10 per cent of the 429,460 mature undergraduates studying in 2009-10 already held degrees, it found, while just 5 per cent of the students polled are supported by employers.

"Mature students are not studying as a leisure activity," he said. "We found that they are actually more ambitious and career-focused than younger students."


You've reached your article limit.

Register to continue

Registration is free and only takes a moment. Once registered you can read a total of 3 articles each month, plus:

  • Sign up for the editor's highlights
  • Receive World University Rankings news first
  • Get job alerts, shortlist jobs and save job searches
  • Participate in reader discussions and post comments

Have your say

Log in or register to post comments

Featured Jobs

Assistant Recruitment - Human Resources Office

University Of Nottingham Ningbo China

Outreach Officer

Gsm London

Professorship in Geomatics

Norwegian University Of Science & Technology -ntnu

Professor of European History

Newcastle University

Head of Department

University Of Chichester
See all jobs

Most Commented

men in office with feet on desk. Vintage

Three-quarters of respondents are dissatisfied with the people running their institutions

students use laptops

Researchers say students who use computers score half a grade lower than those who write notes

Canal houses, Amsterdam, Netherlands

All three of England’s for-profit universities owned in Netherlands

sitting by statue

Institutions told they have a ‘culture of excluding postgraduates’ in wake of damning study

A face made of numbers looks over a university campus

From personalising tuition to performance management, the use of data is increasingly driving how institutions operate