chapter  5
20 Pages

Entering Higher Education: older students’ constructions of self as learners

ByEstelle King

In Chapter 2, Ann Colley examined gender differences in school subjects at secondary level. In this chapter, I focus on the first phase of a longitudinal study of older students, predominantly female, and their narratives of struggle and reward involved from childhood onwards, in constructing new roles for themselves as learners, and the conflict that this often seemed to provoke. In spite of the considerable increase in the number of older students entering Higher Education (that is, those over the age of twenty-one), the current situation does not appear to have changed much since Osborne et al.’s 1984 study, which demonstrates that research on older students in the United Kingdom generally involves those who are white and middle class. The study discussed here is one attempt to redress this balance.