Equity student engagement doesn’t meet university deadlines
A new report has shown many equity students in higher education are challenged by institutional expectations about time, with time management impacted by the competing imperatives of study, work and personal commitments.
The research led by Professor Penny Jane Burke and Dr Anna Bennett from the University of Newcastle (UON) and funded by the National Centre for Student Equity in Higher Education focussed primarily on regional students, advocating an institutional emphasis on students’ engagement with learning, alongside flexible undergraduate programs that are responsive to the complexities of each student’s background.
Students’ experiences of ‘time’ and the dominant perceptions of ‘time management’ impact significantly on the attraction, retention, and performance of students in higher education, although the subject has received little research attention.
Many higher education students, particularly those from equity groups, cite ‘time pressures’ as a major reason for leaving study, but the assumption persists that time is a neutral and linear framework in which all students are equally positioned.
Regional and rural students represent an important equity group in the context of ‘time’. They must often transition from slower paced contexts into regional centres or cities and find accommodation, transportation, and often employment whilst adjusting to tertiary study.
Objectives and methodology
The research project investigated the impact of institutional expectations associated with time management on the attraction, retention, and performance of students in higher education, and how students from regional and remote areas attempted to effectively manage their time.
The report aimed to develop a platform from which embedded assumptions of time management in higher education can be reconfigured as flexible and responsive to the needs of students, to better support their learning experiences.
Qualitative data was collected from interviews with 47 undergraduate students from three regional universities across Australia and the United Kingdom to build on work conducted in this area. In each case, the student population included significant representation from equity groups including students from regional and rural backgrounds.
The analytical framework drew on interdisciplinary theories from education and sociology, grounded in the critical sociology of higher education.
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