Adult Education Academy

    Vanessa Beu

    Vanessa Beu is a research fellow at the Professorship of Adult and Continuing Education at the University of Würzburg, Germany. She works on the analysis of needs in vocational education and training at individual, collective and organisational level.

    Her research is on vocational and in-company continuing education.

    CG8: Adult education and gender - mature women in higher education

    Co-Moderator: Ana Guimaraes Duarte & Prof. Natalia Alves

    Over the past decades, there has been a significant growth in the number of non-traditional students attending higher education 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 the national economic competitiveness and the social inclusion within higher education for traditionally excluded groups such as the working classes, ethnic minorities, older students and disabled.

    In this comparative group, we will focus on a particular group of non-traditional students: the mature women.

    The definition of mature undergraduates varies among the 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 spit of these age differences there is a common agreement among the academic community: mature students are those who are older than ‘traditional’ students (18-years-old).

    The research conducted to explore mature women’s motivation for participation in higher education show that entry into tertiary education was influenced in some cases by the state of relationship with their families. In another cases, the desire to attend higher education has been present for a long time but the implementation of this desire was delayed because of situational, institutional and dispositional barriers.

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

    • to compare mature women’s motivations to attend higher education
    • to compare the barriers they had to overcome
    • to compare the mechanisms of support they could count on


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

    Beu, V. & Egetenmeyer, R. (2022). International collaboration in higher education for professionalisation in adult education. European Journal of University Lifelong Learning, 06(01), 19–24. https://doi.org/10.53807/0601udl0



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