Tuesday, 21 May 2013

part-time matters

Yesterday saw the launch of Part-Time Matters, a campaign highlighting the benefits of part-time study to the UK economy, society and the individual.  Backed by a range of stakeholders in part-time higher education including universities, their mission groups and the NUS, the campaign has launched in response to the dramatic 40% decline in part-time applications to higher education following the 2012 reforms to higher education.  Universities UK has already started to conduct a review into the reasons behind the drop.  

The publicity around part-time higher education is not simply timely, it is overdue.  My doctoral research into retention and part-time, mature students, has revealed the dominance of full-time as the 'authentic' model in institutional, policy and media representations of higher education,  despite one third of all higher education students studying part-time.  There is a tendency to lump part-time students in with 'disadvantaged' groups despite their varied profile. 

Why does part-time matter?  As the campaign argues, part-time higher education brings economic and employment benefits to students/employees and employers; it widens access to higher education and it has a positive impact on personal development. I think it matters too, to our higher education institutions and all their students.  Part-time students bring life experience, employment skills and knowledge, alternative perspectives and astonishing motivation and commitment to their study.  This matters, diversity matters, part-time matters.

Are you studying part-time or know someone who is?  Do you teach part-time students?  What do you think are the particular challenges and benefits of this mode of study?

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