Many higher education institutions would like to attract more mature students. Yet, their marketing material contains mostly information for traditional, younger students . Below, we offer tips for attracting more mature students.
In order to get mature students to apply to and to study at your institution, you might want to draw their attention to special offers your university can introduce:
1. Work with the (State) Employment Service and design one or more study programs so that they are suitable for students with caring obligations or for work returners (after parental leave).
The University of Applied Sciences Upper Austria, Wels Campus, for example, offers a study program designed for mature students who are eligible to apply to a university, but it might have been years ago since they had been in schooling or training.
Some students who are taking this program are financed by the (State) Employment Service as they are currently either unemployed or looking for a job after they stayed at home with their kids. Their studies are then considered advanced training with the aim that they get a good job after the end of their studies. The study program also has the advantage that it is only held Monday-Friday until noon so that the students are available to care for their kids in the afternoon, if necessary.
- Advantage 1: available for currently unemployed persons with the wish to get further education
- Advantage 2: available for persons who got their first education a while ago and now wish to further educate themselves
- Advantage 3: available for persons with caring responsibilities as it has a fixed schedule from Monday-Friday until noon
- Advantage 4: some female students are individually financed by the (state) employment center because they want to get people better educated in order to be able to get them back to the working market
- Advantage 5: ideal for return workers (p.ex. after parental leave)
- Advantage 6: also available for any other student interested in the topic – very diverse group
- Advantage 7: focusses on a technical topic but has a wider focus so that also women become attracted to studying “something technical”
- Advantage 8: students get extra tutoring and counselling if necessary because the university wants them to stay in the programme
- Advantage 9: study content is delivered in a mode so that also not-experienced learners can follow
- Advantage 10: because the study program focusses on a topic that is highly relevant to the economy and enterprises, the employability is high
- Advantage 11: further studies after this programme are possible as it ends with a Bachelor of Science in Engineering (BSc) degree.
2. Cooperate with child care centers/kindergartens/schools/after-school care club to secure a place for the kids of your students
One of the troubles mature students often face is that they need child care facilities for their kids that respond to their needs. One possibility to meet this need is to agree with your local child care facilities that the children of your students have a fixed place there. Remember to also talk about opening hours! If your study program also has (mandatory) parts in the afternoon or evening, child care should be secured also for those additional hours.
3. Cooperate with companies that send their employees for their special education to your university
Your university might have knowledge in some areas where companies would like their employees to be better educated. Many higher education institutions offer complementary education for companies or independently studying employees. Depending on the agreement, “regular” students might also be able to join in!
Example: Laurea UAS offers many educational services for the work-life partners such as tailored degree programmes or shorter tailored educational packages. Read more at Laurea EduGate (most content in Finnish).
4. Make sure to be flexible in your offers and respond to current needs of the society
Many unemployed are motivated to further educate themselves. A special advantage is to be able to offer something that is valuable in the existing economic situation. E.g. if you have a study program focusing on Automotive Computing and the corresponding industrial sector on a decline, foundations or employers might be willing to send their employees to part-time studies while they also continue to serve reduced working hours for their regular employers. Of course, there are many options in this and it’s for sure that you’ll find out what suits your university and the surrounding society best!
5. Structure (one of your) study program so that it can be taken on part-time or while working
Many students are interested in continuing their studies after their Bachelor’s degree while already working. If you design your study program p.ex. with only intensive weeks/days with obligatory presence or with lectures on Friday and Saturday only, your students can work and study at the same time. Furthermore this design might also attract prospective students who have family care obligations, live abroad or far away from the campus.
Example: Laurea’s Service Innovation & Design Master’s Programme is tailored for full-time working students and requiring attencance only during monthly intensive days (Thursday – Saturday).
6. Go online!
Offering studies 100% online and in English allows students from around the world, with the necessary prerequisites, to get a high quality education.
Sources: UAS Upper Austria, Laurea UAS