Mature Student Recruitment to Foundation Year Provision

  • Tara Chandler University of Bolton
  • Jo Luckhurst University of Bolton
  • Pedro Vital University of Bolton
  • Sharon Preston University of Bolton
Keywords: foundation year, non-traditional learner, student voice


Mature learners are highlighted as being intrinsically motivated to attend Higher Education (HE) and therefore adopt a meaningful learning approach. Consequently, mature learners are considered an important demographic and make significant contributions to the culture of HE. After the Educational Reform of 1997, the widening participation agenda increased numbers of mature learners in HE (Murphy and Roopchand, 2003). However UCAS (2017) analysis indicates that mature learner applications to HE via UCAS are in decline and the current study aimed to examine factors that have contributed to this. For this investigation, researchers adopted a pragmatic approach to research where the application of findings were at the forefront of the research. Using a focus group method, researchers explored mature learner experiences of the recruitment process. In total, five participants took part in a focus group; all were HE students studying Foundation Year Psychology at the University of Bolton. Thematic analysis highlighted several drivers of hesitancy mature learners experience proceeding their applications to foundation year provision. It is proposed that such drivers have the potential to inhibit motivations to apply. The current paper proposes recommendations for practice, focusing on recruitment of mature learners to foundation year provision.


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Author Biographies

Tara Chandler, University of Bolton

Tara is an Associate Lecturer in Psychology at the University of Bolton. She is currently completing the final stages of her PhD which examines bullying outcomes, particularly emotional intelligence trajectories related to bullying characteristics. Although Tara’s research interests include these psychological concepts, Tara has worked with non-traditional students at varying levels for several years and therefore has a growing interest in the policies and practice that support non-traditional students.

Jo Luckhurst, University of Bolton

Jo is a Lecturer in Psychology at the University of Bolton. She is a Chartered Occupational Psychologist and has spent most of her career specialising in employment, working with those who have complex needs to help increase their employment prospects. Having moved into academia, Jo uses her experience from practice to support non-traditional students through the learning process.

Pedro Vital, University of Bolton

Pedro is a Senior Lecturer in Psychology at the University of Bolton. His PhD, which he completed in 2009, was focused on the association between special abilities and Autism. Since then he has been involved in a number of research projects focused on a number of aspects around the Autism phenotype, such as its manifestation in females, or how facial mimicry is associated with emotion understanding. Since 2017 he is also the Programme Lead for MSc programmes at the University of Bolton. His role in the foundation year is centred on teaching historical and conceptual issues in Psychology.

Sharon Preston, University of Bolton

Sharon is a Senior Lecturer in Psychology at the University of Bolton. She completed her PhD in 2004, and since that time has become Programme Lead for Psychology with Foundation. Sharon’s PhD focused on analogical reasoning in pre-school children, and one of her main interests is Developmental Psychology. Sharon has a growing interest in non-traditional students, and works alongside her colleagues, Tara Chandler, Jo Luckhurst and Pedro Vital, on the foundation year.