22 SES 11 B, Widening Access to Higher Education for Diverse Groups: Age and Disability as Risk or Opportunity for Promoting an Inclusive University
The Scottish Funding Council points out that ‘access to learning is important because it is fundamental in creating a fairer and more prosperous society , but it also has the capacity to improve individual well-being, confidence, health and the lifetime earnings of individuals.’ The paper focus on research and practice in access of mature adults to higher education, identifying models of good practice through an analysis of two studies: (i) a pre-university entry programme to prepare mature students for HE. Qualitative interviews provide insights into learners’ perspectives on issues such as approaches to learning, information literacy, engagement and perceptions of teaching and learning methods. The results have helped inform both further research and practice in the pre-entry course itself. (ii) a study on engagement of learners in Later Life, that articulates findings from brain sciences (associations between learning, well-being and protection from cognitive decline) and education sciences (older adults’ subjective understanding of learning and preferred learning styles) providing insights that classrooms where social dimensions and active engagement and intertwined, and learning spaces are attractive to older learners, provide opportunities to build cognitive reserve , well-being and mental capital, vital for the new time frame of possibilities that living longer affords.
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