Enabling mature age working class undergraduate students to succeed at the University of Edinburgh

Getting in, fitting in and getting on: Investigating what works in enabling mature age working class undergraduate students to succeed at the University of Edinburgh

School:  Moray House School of Education and Sport

Team Members:  Ian Fyfe, Gray Fraser, Callum McGregor, Stuart Moir, Margaret Petrie, Andie Reynolds, Neil Speirs, Sarah Ward


This project will investigate the experiences of a cohort of Widening Participation (WP) students on the MA Learning in Communities (MALiC). MALiC is a professionally accredited programme, combining academic study with professional practice placements in the field of Community Learning and Development. The MALiC programme breaks new ground for the university. It is the first MA degree programme with entry at SCQF level 7 and to feature an iterative progression up to level 10 over 4 years of study. Classes have been timetabled over 3 days per week to allow students more flexibility with managing study, childcare and work commitments. The unique nature and structure of the MALiC programme provides an opportunity to investigate the transitional experiences of a cohort of undergraduate WP students.

We intend to engage with mature-age working class students, as co-researchers, in order to learn first-hand about the challenges they face and changes experienced as they engage with university life and progress through their studies. Analysis will focus on how these students utilise forms of capital and examine the impact of social class on their student experience. The evidence will have implications for wider WP initiatives across the university and be relevant for future marketing, pre-access learning, recruitment and support of WP students; specifically working class adult returners as a distinctive group in the student population. Evidence gathered will offer insight to the effectiveness of a condensed curriculum and block teaching as alternative and innovative approaches that can be adopted by other schools supporting WP students.