Non-traditional Students: Exploring the challenges and motivations of student parents within higher education.
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Government widening participation polices focusing on education have resulted in a diverse student body. It has been argued that student parents are a significant, but largely unrecognised proportion of the student population. The aim of this study was to address the paucity of literature focusing upon student parents, to utilise qualitative methods to explore the experiences of parents studying full time in HE, and to gain an understanding of the challenges they face, and their motivations to overcome these challenges. The limited research focusing specifically on this population highlight many practical barriers such as childcare facilities, late availability of time tables, and timing of lectures, as well financial and acute time pressures. Four semi structure interviews were conducted with four students with dependent children, 3 females and 1 male. Interpretive phenomenological analysis (IPA) was used to analyse the data. Five super ordinate themes were identified, 1) Expectations different to reality, 2) Emotional and physical costs, 3) Financial implications, 4) Family and social life v’s Academic requirements, and 5) Family as a motivator and obstacle. Results are consistent with existing literature.
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