Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Title

Higher Education Research & Development


Taylor and Francis


School of Medical and Health Sciences




Edith Cowan University - Open Access Support Scheme 2020


Andrew, L., Robinson, K., Dare, J., & Costello, L. (2021). Widening the lens on capital: Conceptualising the university experiences of non-traditional women nurse students. Higher Education Research & Development, 40(7), 1359-1374 .


This article argues the insufficiency of the traditional application of cultural, social and economic capital in conceptualising the non-traditional student experience. Built on the thematic analysis of 52 in-depth interviews with 28 mature-age women nursing undergraduates with family responsibilities in Australia, an alternative, expanded model of capital is proposed.

The qualitative study, underpinned by Gadamer’s Hermeneutic Philosophy, revealed multiple threats and enablers to progression throughout the degree. Dimensions of capital previously unacknowledged in the nursing literature were necessary to fully conceptualise these rich and complex findings, including important student strengths. These dimensions: aspirational, navigational, resistant, familial and experiential capital, compensated when traditional dimensions were lacking, or incongruent with university expectations. This longitudinal study further revealed how the availability and importance of capital altered with the changing curriculum and participants’ personal growth.



Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.