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The experiences of students studying higher education on a part time basis in English further education colleges

Madeleine King (Mixed Economy Group of Colleges, Durham, UK)
Arti Saraswat (School of Education, University of Southampton, Southampton, UK)
John Widdowson (New College Durham, Durham, UK)

Higher Education, Skills and Work-Based Learning

ISSN: 2042-3896

Article publication date: 9 February 2015




The purpose of this paper is to report research carried out by the Mixed Economy Group of colleges into the student experience of part time (PT) higher education (HE) delivered in English further education (FE) colleges.


An online survey was completed by 352 PT students. Their responses, including free comments, formed the basis of the report. The authors provide a context for the work by referring to research carried out by other national agencies.


The research illustrates the strengths of college-based HE, which largely derives from delivery by staff who are qualified teachers and, often, professionally active in their field of expertise. Whilst valuing this, students also seek recognition of the demands of work and family on their study time, as well as an identity as HE students within the greater FE environment.

Social implications

PT HE can drive regional economic growth. By addressing the issues raised by students in the research, local colleges, partner universities, employers and national government can re-build local skill bases. Promoting PT HE develops a vocational ladder to HE, thus widening participation.


Relatively little publically available research exists into the experiences of students pursuing PT HE in colleges. This primary research begins an evidence-based debate about how colleges can improve their offer but also reminds Government of the need to give equal weight to the needs of PT students in future changes to the delivery of HE.



King, M., Saraswat, A. and Widdowson, J. (2015), "The experiences of students studying higher education on a part time basis in English further education colleges", Higher Education, Skills and Work-Based Learning, Vol. 5 No. 1, pp. 63-73.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2015, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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