THE reports on a study done for the HEA about the attitudes of part-time students at UK HEIs. P/T students feel like an after-thought at Universities, even including the OU (and, perhaps surprisingly, even more so at the OU). The way terms and classes are scheduled, deadlines, library loan periods — all are founded upon the traditional full time students, and part-timers just have to fit in best they can. It’s not a pretty picture, and although the main drivers for the dramatic decline in p/t are of course financial, this doesn’t help.
Nevertheless, the report doesn’t distinguish between undergraduate and postgraduate students — to me it reads as if undergraduate just assumed to be the big issue and postgrad is left to be an … after-thought. Full time pg numbers have held up pretty well over the past five years (other than a significant dip in 2013), but part-time pg numbers have been falling dramatically: 40,000 down from 2009 to 2013. P/T postgraduate students are the forgotten among the forgotten.
Numbers wise, they are hardly an after-thought, though: fully one third of all part-time students in the UK are postgraduates. Moreover, p/t pgs make up a much larger proportion of total pg numbers (just under half, believe it or not), than is the case in ug numbers (less than a fifth). Therefore, more of a problem, not less.