n South African Journal of Higher Education - Making space for adult learners in higher education

Volume 20, Issue 4
  • ISSN : 1011-3487



National policy in higher education requires higher education institutions to widen access to adult learners alongside other previously excluded groups, yet gives few indications as to how this should be done. The assumption seems to have been that broadening access is sufficient in itself. In this article we argue that it is possible to construct space for adult learners in higher education if institutions conceive of access in its broadest sense, that is, when access is explicitly linked to retention and throughput, and when learning is closely aligned to the changing context of higher education and the workplace. We use adult education and social learning theories to analyse an honours programme in Journalism and Media Studies where adult learners have flourished because access has been linked to learners' motivation, mindful adaptations to the curriculum, and support from the workplace.

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