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Who benefits? What benefits? Part-time postgraduate study in health and human services

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Part-time postgraduate students make up a significant proportion of the student population, yet their experience remains poorly understood. In this article, a multi-phase, explanatory mixed-method study conducted within Tasmanian health and human services provides some answers. Students reported improved job performance, self-esteem and increased motivation to learn as primary outcomes. Other benefits of significance included an increased ability to manage change and increased job satisfaction. At the other end of the scale, fewer than half of all respondents agreed that part-time postgraduate study led to increased pay or remuneration, and only one-quarter of respondents believed their study led to improvements in personal relationships. There were significant associations between organisational placement and perceptions of benefit. The managers of those who were studying were less likely to perceive either increased job satisfaction or improved job performance in their subordinates. Amongst postgraduate, mature-age, part-time student respondents, their prior experience in higher education, professional background, seniority in the organisation, age and gender were also associated with differing perceptions of the benefits of higher education. These results add to the body of knowledge around the human, social and identity capital benefits associated with lifelong learning, and this study provides guidance for students, employers and universities.
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Keywords: Health and human services; human capital; identity capital; social capital

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: School of Medicine, University of Tasmania, Hobart, Australia

Publication date: July 4, 2017

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