chapter  4
19 Pages

Returning to education

A stressful experience?
ByDimitrios P. Stergiou, David Airey

In recent decades, there has been a movement towards approaching higher education as a lifelong process, making it accessible to a greater number of potential students. One growing student group, within this new reality, are mature students who are returning to university. Much has been said and written about the mature student experience. A recurring idea within this literature is that mature students have additional problems to those of younger ones. On this view, returning to education creates additional demands on adults who already have multiple roles with families, communities and the workplace, thus resulting in a stressful educational experience. In this context, the purpose of this chapter is to present a study exploring perceptions of stress among mature students returning to higher education in a tourism program of study. More specifically, data for this investigation were taken from an interview study with a mature student population undertaking the first year of study in the Master’s programme in Tourism Management at the Hellenic Open University. The data collected provide insights into student-self perceptions as returning learners, perceptions of the institution and balancing multiple roles.