An exploration of the experience of part-time students within the Department of Continuing Education, University of Paisley
There has been a rapid growth in the number of part-time students studying within the Department of Continuing Education at the University of Paisley. The University is committed to providing flexibly structured courses to provide opportunities to a wide and social representative constituency of adults. This research investigates how the University can meet the needs of the part-time student population by exploring their experiences. It focuses on four main areas: The trend in the profile of the part-time student population was analysed to gain an insight into the general characteristics of the student population; The enquiry experience of the individual - This analysis involves telephone interviews with individuals and considers the reasons why they choose to enrol or not; The initial experiences of new part time students at the University - Using a postal questionnaire students were asked about their initial experiences; The reasons why new students withdrew were investigated using a telephone survey. Because it involved action research where actions were taken based upon the results of the analysis the investigations were repeated the following academic year. This allowed for evaluation of the actions and further recommendations to enhance the part-time student experience. Evidence emerging from the research will facilitate improved recruitment strategies, support systems for part-time students and inform retention strategies for the part-time student population. Meeting the needs of the part-time student population is an institutional challenge. The Department of Continuing Education currently has over 2000 students enrolled and studying, during the day in the evening and at weekends. This research has reviewed the needs of such students by exploring their experience, making recommendations and taking action.