Non-Traditional Publics in Higher Education: A Needs Evaluation

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The Portuguese Higher Education (HE) system is facing major challenges, part of them due to the increasing number of non-traditional publics who are entering, for the first time, in HE institutions. This fact emphasises the new demands and roles asked to these institutions, concerning the openness to diversity, the creation of new opportunities and the focus on equity. In fact, there is a growing awareness related to the diversity of student’ profiles that attend HE, more specifically concerning the presence of mature or non-traditional adult students (NTAS), over 23 years old (Law-Decree 64/2006), in HE. Within this context, the authors developed a study at the University of Aveiro (Portugal) which is focused on their particular characteristics, motivations, expectations and difficulties. The authors collected data from questionnaires, motivation letters and semi-oriented interviews, in order to elaborate a first characterisation of NTAS from different perspectives, and to evaluate their particular needs. Therefore, with this study the authors intend (i) to reflect about the “widening participation agenda” that is increasing in Portugal; (ii) to reveal the major characteristics of NTAS enrolled at the University of Aveiro; (iii) to evaluate their particular needs, based on the findings; and, consequently, (iv) to discuss possible proposals to put into practice in this particular Portuguese context.


Keywords: Lifelong Learning, Non-Traditional Adult Students, Higher Education, Needs Evaluation
Stream: Curriculum and Pedagogy; Student Learning, Learner Experiences, Learner Diversity
Presentation Type: Paper Presentation in English
Paper: A paper has not yet been submitted.


Ana Vitória Baptista

Ph.D Student and Researcher, Department of Didactics and Educational Technology, University of Aveiro
Aveiro, Portugal, Portugal

Ana Vitória Baptista is a Ph.D Student at the University of Aveiro in Portugal. She has already finished her M.Ed, which was focused on a new public that is entering Higher Education (HE) Institutions: non-traditional adult students (or mature students). Her main interests include: postgraduate supervisory practice; linking teaching and research; Higher Education policies; the Bologna Process and its consequences to HE Institutions, namely in the curricula, in the teaching and learning process, and in quality assessment and assurance; lifelong learning perspectives and discourses; and non-traditional students at Higher education Institutions.

Dr. Isabel Huet

Researcher in Higher Education, Department of Didactics and Educational Technology, University of Aveiro
Aveiro, Portugal, Portugal

Dr Isabel Huet has a Ph.D. in Education and is currently a Research Fellow at the University of Aveiro in Portugal. Her research interests include new teaching and learning approaches with emphasis on engineering and science education, e-learning, collaborative learning, and linking teaching and research in Higher Education. Currently she is also interested on professional training of university teachers and the implications of the Bologna process in curricula design, teaching and learning.

Ref: L09P1581