Adult Education Academy

    Prof. Natalia Alves

    Natália Alves is an associate professor at Instituto de Educação, Universidade de Lisboa. She holds a PhD on Sociology of Education. 

    Her main fields of research are school to work transitions and IVET and CVET policies, forms of provision and practices.

    CG7: Adult education and gender - mature women in higher education

    Co-Moderator: Ana Guimaraes Duarte

    Over the past decades, the number of non-traditional students attending higher education has grown significantly around the world. Governments and higher education institutions encourage under-represented students to enrol. Widening their participation is often directed at two main goals: enhancing national economic competitiveness and promoting social inclusion in higher education for traditionally excluded groups such as the working classes, ethnic minorities and older and disabled students.
    In this comparative group, we will focus on al particular group of non-traditional students: mature women.
    The definition of mature undergraduates varies between countries according to age criteria. In some countries, they are defined as those aged 21 and over; in others as 23 or 25 and over. In spite of these age differences, the academic community largely agrees that mature students are those who are older than “traditional“ students (18 year-olds).
    The research conducted to explore mature women’s motivation for participating in higher education shows that their university enrolment was influenced in some cases by the state of their relationship with their families. In other cases, the desire to attend higher education had been present for a long time, but the realisation of this desire was delayed because of structural and individual barriers.

    Based on the analysis of interviews conducted by the participants of this comparative group work with mature women attending higher education institutions, we expect students:

    • To compare the national definitions of mature undergraduate students
    • To compare mature women’s motivations to attend higher education
    • To compare mature women’s motivation for higher education as it relates to broader national socio-economic contexts


    For more information about the comparative group have a look at our programme!

    1. ALVES, N; SCHMIDT-LAUFF, S; DOUTOR, C.; CAMPOS, L. (2020): Contexts of Recognition of Prior Learning. Andragoške studije, 2, 87-110.
    2. NEVES, T.; ALVES, N.; CONCETTA, A.; DOMOVIC, V. (2019): The changing meanings of Lifelong Learning policies: consequences for young adults and their life courses. In: AMARAL, M.P.; KOVACHEVA, S.; RAMBLA, X. (Hrsg.): Navigating between Knowledge and Economy. Lifelong Learning Policies for Young Adults in Europe. Bristol. S. 209-2016.
    3. RODRIGUES, M.; QUEIROGA R.; RIBEIRO, A. B.; ALVES, N.; NEVES, T. (2019): Lifelong learning policies supporting young adults in two Portuguese regions, International Journal of Lifelong Education, DOI: 10.1080/02601370.2019.1690596
    4. ALVES, N.; GUIMARAES, P. (2017): COMPALL Winter School students’ motivations. In: EGETENMEYER, R.; GUIMARAES, P.;
    5. NÉMETH, B. (Hrsg.): Joint Modules and Internationalisation in Higher Education. Reflections on the Joint Module “Comparative Studies in Adult Education and Lifelong Learning. Frankfurt. S. 143-158.
    6. GUIMARAES, P., ALVES, N. (2016): Adult educators in Portugal: from the European Union guidelines to a national public policy of lifelong learning technicians. In: EGETENMEYER, R.; SCHMIDT-LAUFF, S.; BOFFO, V. (Hrsg.): Adult Learning and Education in International Contexts. Future Challenges for its Professionalisation. Frankfurt. S. 75-76.
    7. ALVES, N.; ALMEIDA, A.J.; QUEIROGA, R.E.; GUIMARAES, P. (2018): Vocational education and training policies: the tension between inclusion, employability and democratization. IN: GÓMES CHOVA, I.; LÓPEZ-MARTÍNEZ, A.; CANDEL-TORRES, I. (Hrsg.): EDULEARN18 Proceedings 10th International Conference on Education and New Learning Technologies. Valencia. S. 76697678.



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