Document Type

Conference Proceeding


Edith Cowan University, Western Australia in association with Khon Kaen University, Thailand and Bansomdejchaopraya Rajabhat University, Thailand.


EDU-COM 2008 International Conference. Sustainability in Higher Education: Directions for Change, Edith Cowan University, Perth Western Australia, 19-21 November 2008.


Australian Government policies have increased accessibility of under-represented groups into Universities, and one significant group in this shift is mature aged women (Department of Education, Science and Training 2004). University policy related to provision of support for nontraditional groups of students, through improved academic and support services is beneficial in improving student retention rates among non-traditional student groups (Krause et al. 2005). The present paper reports a phenomenological approach (Moustakas 1994; Smith & Osborn 2003) to understanding how expectations of higher education impacts on adjustment to study within lived experiences of 12 women aged between 40-49 years studying Psychology. Each participant took part in a semi-structured interview with topics such as reasons for commencing study, factors in forming their expectations of academic and social support and how lived experiences differed from these expectations. Findings suggest the design of student services and transitions programmes must adjust to students‘ narrative life story (McAdams 2001) consider how their life stage interacts with expectations, motivations, and present and future goals.