This paper is a preliminary discussion of research findings from a PhD study that began within UWE’s Education Faculty in September 2001. It will seek to outline provisional thoughts as to how notions of risk and uncertainty are employed in the construction of personal biographies for (mature) students on an Access course. Extracts from interviews undertaken with the students will be used in an effort to ground the theory in personal experience.
The fear of failing the course, thus reinforcing previous negative experiences of the education system and further damaging an already low self esteem, is paramount for some of the cohort. Others meanwhile express worries over how non academic issues including relationship or monetary pressures may jeopardise their chances of success.