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?