Aljoša Šestanović, Mahnaaz Siddiqui


A number of studies and cases have brought to light the challenges and barriers mature students face as they embark on a course of study. Yet there is no agreed definition of the term ‘mature student’. The first part of this paper presents several definitions of the term found in the contemporary literature. The two prevailing criteria are the typical constraints mature students face while studying and student age. In our study, a survey questionnaire was distributed electronically to 64 mature students at Oxford Business College during August 2021. Our research found that the most concerning issue for those who took part in our survey during the Covid-19 pandemic was reconciling financial obligations associated with education and family responsibilities. This may be a consequence of increased job insecurity during the pandemic. However, only one-third of the mature students in our study said they had significant difficulties in balancing study with other commitments, and slightly more than one fifth had experienced extreme or significant amounts of stress. Most students had succeeded in finding the right balance, albeit with minor difficulties. Interestingly, the results of our correlation analysis showed that stress in managing activities was unrelated to gender and age, while absence from full-time education was significantly positively related to age and unrelated to gender. Stress in managing activities correlated positively with balancing study-related obligations with other life commitments. This result shows that higher levels of stress lead to greater difficulties in achieving a balance between study and other life activities. Furthermore, associations between the period of absence from full-time education prior to enrolment on the current study program and gender and age were statistically insignificant. The results of our multiple linear regression analysis showed that gender and age together explained a statistically significant percentage of variance in stress levels. Additionally, absence from full-time formal education accounted for 2% of the total score variance in stress caused by managing different activities. This finding indicates that longer periods of time spent out of formal education predict higher levels of stress among mature students later on. As we start to move beyond the pandemic, almost two-thirds of respondents said they would prefer lessons to be delivered online once the Covid-19 pandemic is over, while only a minority of them prefer traditional classroom-based lessons (on-campus). This is perhaps no surprise given the substantial time-saving advantages of online learning, the scarcest resource for mature students. 


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mature students, adults learning, part-time learning, study-life balance, high education, educational tools

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