Part time research

Part-time study is essential to skills development and opening up educational opportunities in Wales, according to a new report launched today by NUS Wales and The Open University in Wales.

Download the It’s About Time report here.

The “It’s About Time” report is the culmination of a year-long research project into the make-up and experiences of part-time students in Wales. The findings of the research clearly demonstrate the value of part-time study to Wales, including the vital role that flexible provision plays in enabling students who have a range of pressures and commitments, including full time employment and caring responsibilities, to access education.

Stephanie Lloyd, NUS Wales President, said:

“This report shows that part-time study is vital to Wales and at the forefront of widening access and skills. Part-time students have a range of demands and pressures on their time, including work and caring responsibilities. It’s the ability to fit study into their busy and pressured lives that makes part-time the best and often only option for so many in Wales.

“But part-time provision remains underfunded and undervalued. It is time for no more hollow words from policy makers, the sector and the Government on the importance of part-time, but instead a commitment to adequately funding what is an essential and vital part of Wales’ education landscape. Part-time study is about time, and it’s about time we made it a priority.”

Rob Humphreys, Director of The Open University in Wales said:

“This research provides valuable evidence for what many of us working in the part-time sector have known for a long time, that protecting and resourcing part-time study options is essential to developing Wales’ economy and enabling people to achieve their potential.

“Part-time students can be employees, tax-payers, carers or parents – for them it is not a choice between full or part-time, part-time is the best and preferred option. It is essential to ensure that part-time study is funded so that flexible provision exists and that students are supported to access it. Part-time is not the ‘nice to have’ younger sibling of full-time, it meets economic and social need and must be seen as a core part of Welsh Government education and skills policy.”

The “It’s About Time” study included a survey of 1,344 part-time students in Wales and a series of telephone interviews with part-time students.

The key findings of the report are as follows:

1. Part-time students are a diverse group who are spread across the adult age range, with 62 per cent of our respondents being over 30. Our research suggests that part-time students include a high proportion of students who are in employment (72 per cent), have a long-term health condition or disability (22 per cent), or have caring responsibilities (39 per cent).

2. Part-time study is firmly associated with employability and the economy, 72 per cent of part-time students are in employment and the most commonly cited reason for pursuing part-time study was to improve future employability.

3. Part-time students tend to be satisfied with their courses, on average stating that their course is close to fully meeting expectations.

4. The informal commitment to part-time study is greater than the formal commitment, with over half of part-time students studying over 10 hours a week informally through reading, writing or independent study. 40 per cent of respondents felt that the time commitment had been more than they had expected prior to beginning their course.

5. The majority of part-time students find the pressure of their course ‘about right’ (75 per cent). However, carers, parents and disabled students were more likely to say they felt their course was a little too pressured.

6. Over half of part-time students have missed a formal part of their course, the most common reasons cited for this being caring commitments, work commitments or transport difficulties. Being a disabled student, carer or parent increases the likelihood of a student missing a formal element of their course.

7. The most common sources of funding used by part-time students to fund their studies are savings or paid work. Around one in ten students have used personal debt to fund their study.

8. Fifteen percent of those in employment receive support or funding from their employer. Those who do receive support were very grateful of financial support but emphasised the importance of other kinds of support including study leave and flexibility to attend formal elements of the course.

9. A third of part-time students did not seek advice or guidance prior to starting their course, those that do generally seek academic and financial advice. Part-time students tend to seek advice from their institutions, their lecturers/tutors and online.

Download the It’s About Time report here.


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