22 SES 12 B, Non-Traditional Students’ Meeting Higher Education. Academic Integration and Drop Out.
The transformation of higher education into what has been labelled “the mass university” (1) and the recruitment of a more diverse group of students has been perceived as a move towards a possible more equal society. However, there is a concern that in spite of more non-traditional students entering hihger education, these students are more at risk of dropping out without a degree.
The social and academic integration into higher education is crucial for students in order to gain a sense of belonging to their study programme and consequently crucial for retention (2). Students entering hihger education from a non-traditional background experience what Reay, Crozier and Clayton (3) describe as “an out-of-field experience” and are more likely to struggle with deciphering the rules of governing practices within academia, and hence to participate in a legitimate way (4). Consequently, these students are more at risk of dropping out (5).
However, these patterns of governing practices may be less unambiguous as the results from this symposium reveals. In the first paper it is revealed that non-traditional students at Australian universities are retained at the same level as their peers. This is a clear contrast to an European context. The analysis shows how the cultural capital of non-traditional students is not as different to their mainstream peers as it is in Europe. Whereas the second paper turn to a European context and highlights how students experience the discrepancy between their background and the institutional setting they enter to be caused by their individual inadequacies, why they are in risk of dropping out of their studies. In the third paper it is argued that although a number of factors are beyond the universities’ control, hihger education institutions and their support methods can have an impact on non-traditional students’ risk of dropping out. The final paper provides a review of the literature concerning hihger education drop out and situates the previous presentations within this literature. It shows that research has tended to focus on deficits within the students as a cause for dropping out, but now move towards understanding drop out as a relation between the student and their institutions.
This symposium offers a clear contribution to our understanding of how non-traditional students meet HE in different cultural and national contexts, it aim to offer;
- A platform for discussing challenges for HE-institutions in terms of meeting the call of widening participation
- An examination of how different methodological approaches contributes to understand non-traditional students meeting with HE
1. P. Scott, The meanings of mass higher education. (Open University Press, London, 1995).
2. V. Tinto, Leaving college. Rethinking the causes and cures of student attrition (The University of Chicago Press, Chicago and London, ed. 2, 1993).
3. D. Reay, G. Crozier, J. Clayton, ‘Strangers in Paradise’?: Working-class Students in Elite Universities. Sociology43, 1103-1121 (2009); published online EpubDecember 1, 2009 (10.1177/0038038509345700).
4. J. Watson, M. Nind, D. Humphris, A. Borthwick, Strange new world: applying a Bourdieuian lens to understanding early student experiences in higher education. British Journal of Sociology of Education30, 665-681 (2009); published online Epub2009/11/01 (10.1080/01425690903235144).
5. L. Ulriksen, L. M. Madsen, H. T. Holmegaard, What do we know about explanations for drop out/ opt out among young people from STM higher education program? Studies in Science Education46, 209-244 (2010).
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