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“It's our last chance”: A study of completion rates by age at an English university

Baxter, Arthur; Hatt, Susan; Kimberlee, Richard


Arthur Baxter

Susan Hatt


Although the UK has one of the highest graduation rates in the world, some groups of students are more likely than others to complete their degree. This article examines the completion rates of mature and younger students on a large undergraduate social science programme at a new university in England in the late 1990s. Drawing on quantitative data and interviews with staff and students, this article compares the reasons why students enter HE, the factors affecting their motivation and attendance and the issues they face if they are to complete the programme. Although younger students have higher rates of completion than ‘matures’, they also account for the majority of the non-completers. Since noncompletion is a wasteful process, both groups warrant attention. Students in the younger age groups can find it hard to negotiate the transition to university life and this can lead to non-attendance and the risk of failure. For mature students, the pressures on their time can be acute making it difficult for them to continue if personal circumstances change. As universities have expanded their intake, they need to review their teaching and learning strategies, their assessment regime and their support and guidance systems to ensure that they cater for all groups within a more diverse student body.


Baxter, A., Hatt, S., & Kimberlee, R. (2002). “It's our last chance”: A study of completion rates by age at an English university. Journal of Adult and Continuing Education, 8(2), 88-103.

Journal Article Type Article
Publication Date Jan 1, 2002
Journal Journal of Adult and Continuing Education
Print ISSN 1477-9714
Publisher SAGE Publications
Peer Reviewed Not Peer Reviewed
Volume 8
Issue 2
Pages 88-103
Keywords university, England, english, graduation, completion, age, degree, social science, students
Public URL
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