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Part-time students in transition: supporting a successful start to higher educationThe transition into higher education is a critical time for all students. A positive early experience provides a strong foundation for future academic success whilst a negative experience can be destabilising for a new learner. To date, research has primarily focused on full-time undergraduates in order to explain the reasons for high attrition rates at the end of the first year. Less is known about the experiences of part-time undergraduates despite the fact that they make up over one quarter of the total student population (HESA, 2015). This article reports on a study to investigate the initial experiences of a group of part-time undergraduates who have chosen to undertake a degree at a small study centre run by one university. Using a mixed methods research approach, the research captured the lived reality of the experience and identified the contributing and negating factors that can influence a successful transition. Perceptions of the level and type of support provided for students during transition were gained from both staff and students. The findings confirm a heterogeneous group. Despite being highly motivated, the early transition period was generally characterised by a sense of trepidation and self-doubt as students took their first steps in higher education. The research highlights the complexity of the initial decision-making process for part-time students and the barriers they face. It concludes that a flexible but unified approach, involving tutors and the wider support services, is needed, as unique students require unique responses to their transition needs.
Promises and lies: an exploration of curriculum managers experiences in FEThis article examines the important but under-researched role of the curriculum manager within further education. It reviews managers’ perceptions of the role through the lens of the professional–managerial paradigm, with a particular emphasis on the conflict in values experienced by managers trying to implement processes driven by the financial imperative whilst ensuring that their focus remains student-centred. The sample selected mirrored the current curriculum management profile within further education and included seven managers (four female, three male) covering a geographical spread from the North Midlands to North London. The day-to-day reality of the role was reflected in a perceived lack of power and autonomy dominated by a sense of frustration that the initial perception of the job was not matched by the veracity of the position. Participants spoke about having to deal with a large number of obstacles that hindered their ability to make a difference; notably, organisational systems and processes, staffing problems and a perceived intransigence and lack of support from senior management resulting in the adoption of a variety of personas in order to cope with the demands of the role.