Every 2013 no pagination). Thus, challenges very often


Every
year in Great Britain there are more than 2 million people enrolled in higher
education. Students differ by age, race, gender, marital status or family
background. If earlier the average age of students was 18-25 years, now the age
level has increased noticeably: about 15% of students are people aged 25 years
and older (Thomas and Quinn, 2006). These students are usually called mature
students (Davies, 2003). This tendency addresses the importance of lifelong
education in the contemporary world, the need for constant self-development and
professional development for working professionals. As Layer pointed out,
“studying at university as a mature student also provides an important route
back into the labour market for those who find themselves unemployed”(Layer,
2011 no pagination). Therefore, for mature age individual, it might be
challenging to return to education in terms of responsibility towards workplace
or family. Moreover, mature students are often from low-income groups and
usually first-generation students, hence, sometimes mature students “can lack
confidence in themselves, feel they do not have the knowledge or experience to
succeed and worry that they will not ‘fit in'” (Morgan, 2013 no pagination).
Thus, challenges very often are a combination of obstacles such as
“attitudinal, educational, financial, personal, social and vocational”
(Cullity, 2010 p.61). Also, very often mature students have faced identity
changes when they start their way in higher education (Baxtor and Britton,
2011). Solution to reduce those challenges might be found by the appropriate
level of the support from university (Paton, 2012). However, every student has
their own expectation and perception of institutional support from the
university. Requirements for support might vary by individual mature student.

Research questions and aims

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The
aim of the study is to investigate the relationship between the needs of the
mature student individual and institutional support from University as higher
education’s service provider. Student as a consumer of higher education has an
opportunity to ask for high-quality service. The support service of university
very often is orientated to a general population of the university, therefore,
18 – 21-year-old. However, the needs of mature students might be different for
each individual because “mature students are a very diverse group, whether in
terms of age, previous education, financial circumstances, nationality or
family commitments” (Newson, et al., 2011 p.16). Therefore, the support for
mature students requires a specific approach for individual or group.
Generally, support is available in a way of student services, mature student
groups, counselling service, career advisory centre, Chaplaincy or personal
tutor (Becker, 2009). However, as several studies confirmed that the level of
the support might not always match necessary requirements of a mature student
or could be improved by additional functions which potentially will be found
out by this research (Laming et al., 2016). Consequently, University will be
tested on the level for any organizational change or actions which should be
taken a place in relation to awareness rising among staff (Newson et al.,
2011).

The
research will be conducted in a way to answer research questions. For purpose
of this research to answer specific queries of the research aim data will be
collected based on research questions. According to Polit and Beck, set up of
research questions might be helpful because this helps to “guide the types of
data to be collected in a study” (Polit and Beck, 2008 p.81). Therefore, the
research questions will be asked to discover what advantages or disadvantages
mature students experience in a contact to higher education services because of
their mature status. The findings of this research can be used for evaluation
purposes of institutional support for mature students. Additionally, the
implications of current institutional support might be evaluated during
research and necessary changes might be applied.  The main questions of the research have been
selected:

•    To what extent the education after 30 is an
advantage?

•    What are advantages and disadvantages of
being a mature student?

•    To what extend mature students are involved
in university life?

•    What are those challenges to be a mature
student?

•    How often mature students use the available
support services?

•    How aware are mature students about the
availability of institutional support services?

•    To what extent institutional support
services help reduce or minimise challenges for mature students?

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