An article in the Independent (online) highlights the problems of integrating mature students into a young school-leaving student body ('Are universities doing enough to include mature students?' 25 July). Despite the fact that mature entrants now representing over 40% of students, the article claims student unions and university managers are not doing enough to cater for mature students - a problem that begins with freshers' weeks which can be an alienating experience with their emphasis on 'a whirlwind week of hedonism and recovering from yet another unrelenting hangover.'
Those of us in lifelong learning will be familiar with this - a problem exacerbated by the fact that the majority of our mature students are also part time, and further removed from the full-time 'young' student life. This alienation causes a high proportion of mature student withdrawals, and needs to be much better appreciated and proper provision made for a social supportive culture which is relevant to the lives of mature and part-time students.