In spite of the profound changes in the university student body over recent decades, something of a ‘stereotype’ persists: the 18-year-old choosing a course and university by consulting prospectuses, friends and family, then leaving home to study and live in a hall of residence. After getting a degree the graduate moves again to some other part of the country, to begin a ‘career’.
The model, influential in driving the sector’s growth, has never told the complete story of higher education. Although part-time study has reduced significantly over the current decade, many part-time students work during the day and then participate in evening study; thousands of students who study by distance or open learning from home, work or a mobile base. But these students have often seemed marginal to decisions about funding, curriculum and learning provision.