Students Staff

24 February 2012

Making sure mature students get the most from university

Helping ensure mature students succeed at university is the focus of a major conference backed by the Higher Education Academy (HEA) being held at Essex on Thursday 12 April.

The University’s Mature Student Retention project was shortlisted for the Times Higher Education Award in 2011 and the team involved in the scheme are keen to share their experiences to support other universities facing similar challenges.

They will be joined by staff from Colchester Institute and Queen Margaret University at the conference titled ‘Mature… but experienced? Ways to support the retention and success of mature students’. Mature students studying at Essex will also provide their insights.

The conference is part of HEA’s Workshop and Seminar Series 2012 and targeted at academics and learning and teaching professionals.

The University of Essex has transformed its approach to mature students over the past two years.

Initiatives introduced include:

  • • New web pages, e-mail updates and e-newsletters featuring targeted information;
  • • Residential pre-enrolment ‘Housewarming’ event;
  • • Improved peer mentoring;
  • • Special Freshers’ Week reception;
  • • ‘Refresher’ event in the spring;
  • • Extra support for the Students’ Union Mature Students Society;
  • • Student blogs by current mature students.

The University’s Student Retention Officer Katie Rakow said: “We will be exploring the activities and findings of the University’s Mature Student Retention project and looking at how these could be taken forward by other institutions. As part of this we will cover key aspects of the student lifecycle from Access courses to pre-registration events and support mechanisms which can be built into the first-year experience.

“We hope the presentations by staff from Essex and out colleagues at Colchester Institute and Queen Margaret University will help other universities find new ways of improving mature student retention.”

Sessions will cover working with mature students before they arrive, an overview of the work at Essex, different models for supporting students and how to make study skills sessions meaningful. There will also be a workshop on ways to support students from specific backgrounds.

The conference is on Thursday 12 April from 10am to 4pm at the Ivor Crewe Lecture Hall.

To book a place e-mail Andrea Munson at the University of Essex at:

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