Mature students and Access courses: problems?

15 Oct 2007

Anyone else in universities and FE colleges aware of this concern, raised by Ian Greener, Admissions Tutor and Director of Undergraduate Admissions at Manchester University Business School?

Ian wrote saying: 

'In the last year we've experienced an increase in non-mature students enrolling on Access courses to try and enter HE. This route seems especially appealing to overseas students, especially those from China. This is creating quite a dilemma for us. On the one hand I really am passionate about getting more mature students onto our courses, and the Access route has often proven to the best way to achieve this in the past. I recognise entirely that mature students bring a great deal to our courses, and I enjoy teaching them. However, Access courses often, because of the way they are structured and because they have attracted students with non-standard backgrounds in the past, don't give a final grading upon completion beyond pass or fail. Where students have lots of work experience this is fine, but in the case where 18 year-olds are beginning to enroll on them, I start to get uneasy.'


'Age discrimination law has led to the situation where Access courses are now open to students of all ages, so are in danger of losing their defining characteristics - to give non-standard entrants a chance at HE. If younger students believe that they are in some way an 'easy' route into HE, then this is going to cause substantial problems as there is a danger that Universities will simply stop taking students from them. I gather Access courses will start grading more clearly pass/fail, but this may end up putting off the students from interesting backgrounds that such courses were meant to attract in the first place. I'm concerned that Access courses might end up disappearing and mature students have to take 'Foundation' programmes instead that are not really designed for their needs.'

Ian asks: 'Am I the only one who is worried about this?'

Your comments and experiences are welcome

User Comments

kate - 30 Nov 2007


Thank God i'm not the only one.
I have just completed Access and 98% were in their 20's. My confidence couldnt grow and hence in my uni course i am suffering.

sarah harris - 09 Mar 2008


Thick and cannot speak English then take Foundation. ONE YEAR to get to University.

Bright with good English - TWO YEARS to get to uni, with A levels.

same uni.
Same course.

More money for the unis.

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