The dramatic decline in the numbers of HE learners studying part-time in the UK has been well-documented. The crisis is one directly impacting on the opportunities mature/adult students might seize: a 40% drop in part-time undergraduates in England over the last five years, with a 55% drop in sub-degree level study (diplomas, certificates and for institutional credit) presents a particular risk for institutions committed to widening access and enabling social mobility. The loss of part-time students disproportionately affects those from the most disadvantaged backgrounds – adults for whom part-time HE represents a second chance, a possibility of upskilling for employment and a chance to transform personal and family lives.

The Open University’s Widening Participation Conference, 27-28 April 2016 has a dedicated theme on the part-time crisis. A call for research and practice papers and posters provides further detail, and has a deadline of 27th November 2015.

We are interested in papers which explore:
• Reasons for the decline
• Institutional responses to the decline
• International perspectives comparing/contrasting the UK situation
• Student voices reflecting on the challenges of studying part-time
• Concepts of flexibility which can remove barriers to part-time study

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