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Getting off the hill and reaching communities: experiences of mature learners as 'separate' or 'integrated' at an elite university

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There are on-going debates in higher education policy and research concerning tendencies in how widening participation is delivered and achieved to require students from diverse backgrounds to assimilate to institutional norms. Such arguments often revolve around the appropriateness of 'separate' or 'integrated' modes of delivery (Warren, 2002). The Faculty of Arts at the University of Bristol offers a range of outreach programmes aimed at mature students from the local area. The Foundation Year in Arts and Humanities (FYAH) offered by the faculty does not require prior academic qualifications. Interviews with past and present FYAH students reveal the transformative nature of these outreach programmes, for students and academics alike, but also the risks and challenges when they continue onto a 'mainstream' degree. The potential to extend flexible and imaginative outreach programmes across the institution is a vital measure to engage inclusively with widening participation but requires institutional change. This article explores the experiences of mature learners in this context, as a means of understanding how students themselves experience the processes of being 'integrated into' or 'separate from' the institution they encounter. Do you mean 'separated'?
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Keywords: ACCESS TO HIGHER EDUCATION; ADULT LEARNERS; OUTREACH; WIDENING PARTICIPATION

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: November 1, 2018

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  • The journal is based on the belief that there are neglected links between research and theory, and policy and practice in the promotion of widening participation in post-compulsory education and lifelong learning. It aims to provide a forum for the development of theory, the addressing of policy questions and the dissemination of innovative practice in the field of widening participation and lifelong learning.
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