Non-traditional students, issues of inclusion and access

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaperpeer-review


Increasing the numbers of individuals in higher education has been a central concern of Government in the United Kingdom over the last decade. Furthermore, access for those adults who traditionally would not attend university has been part of this agenda (The Scottish Office, 1998). Non-traditional students can be regarded as such as a result of a variety of factors such as age, income, class and ethnicity; those who could be considered as coming from disadvantaged backgrounds (Bowl, 2003). This paper reports on an ongoing research interest which aims to explore the experiences of students from a diverse range of backgrounds in higher education. Current literature in this field will be explored, and data gathered from a previous study of students on The BA in Community Education will be used as a case study to explore issues of inclusion and widening access.

This study focused on the students’ experiences, perceptions and feelings and this influenced the research design. Therefore in-depth interviews were used to gather qualitative data. In the interviews the students described the personal journeys which led to their decision to attend higher education, the barriers they faced and the strategies that have helped them progress successfully through year one of the BA.

The paper concludes that if the Scottish Government is to realise its vision of a lifelong learning society which seeks to close the gap between those ‘who achieve their full potential and those who do not’ (2003, p. 4) support strategies and opportunities for flexible approaches such as part-time study should continue to be supported and extended.

Bowl, M. (2003). Non-Traditional Entrants to Higher Education. Trentham Books: England.

Scottish Executive. (1998). Opportunity Scotland: A Paper on Lifelong Learning. Edinburgh.

Scottish Executive. (2003). Life Through Learning Through Life: The Lifelong Learning. Strategy for Scotland. Edinburgh.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusUnpublished - 2009
EventScottish Educational Research Association Annual Conference 2009 - Perth, United Kingdom
Duration: 26 Nov 200928 Nov 2009


ConferenceScottish Educational Research Association Annual Conference 2009
CityPerth, United Kingdom


  • educational access
  • community education
  • inclusion

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