International Journal of Humanities and Social Science

ISSN 2220-8488 (Print), 2221-0989 (Online) 10.30845/ijhss

Making Sense of Part-Time Students’ Transition into Higher Education: Recognising the Self, Family and Work
Mark A. Abrahams

This paper argues that it is essential to make sense of working adults’ transition into the university, more so, there needs to be clarity about the dominant understanding of transition when dealing with working students. The University of the Western Cape (UWC) has since its inception in 1960 offered evening classes to working students. This offering is currently under threat and the Division for Lifelong learning (DLL) has engaged in an action research process to investigate teaching and learning opportunities that are conceptualised and provided in flexible ways. Located in one of the three pilot sites of the action research, this paper explores the transition of a sample of Political Studies students as shared in interviews and other data collected. It considers the roles and influence of the contextual domains of work, family and self and examines the implications for mature students, their workplaces and the university. A sense-making approach is used to highlight discontinuities or gaps experienced by the students and the initial analysis reveals that attempts to support students may be constrained by prevailing conceptions of the trajectories of part-time students. Instead of the traditional, linear transition into higher education – normally associated with younger students – trajectories for mature students are less linear, more complex and include stop-outs and discontinuities within transitions.

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