Date of Award


Document Type



Edith Cowan University

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts Honours


School of Psychology and Social Sciences


Faculty of Computing, Health and Science

First Supervisor

Dr Elizabeth Kaczmarek

Second Supervisor

Dr Dierdre Drake


In Australia, mature age students are 20 years of age and above in the year that they commence study and comprise approximately 65 per cent of students enrolled in Australian universities (EIM Support, 201 0). There are many reasons why they may choose to commence tertiary education (Hoskins, Newstead, & Dennis, 1997) with their transition into university likely to require them to make changes across many life domains (Gall, Evans, & Bellerose, 2000). There is much evidence to suggest that mature age students are capable of completing their undergraduate degrees, however they have a relatively low retention rate, especially in comparison with younger students (EIM Support, 2010). This study involved the interviewing of 12 mature age students who were in the final stages of their undergraduate degrees, to understand and recognise what it is that enables mature age students to cope with the demands of their student life. Thematic content analysis identified three broad themes; these were Goal, University Life and Resources. These themes related to why the mature age students entered university, how they managed it and what assisted them during the process. It was concluded that those who have a specific reason for being at university, are able to adjust and compromise their time, and have resources from which they can draw, are more likely to adapt and cope with the challenges of university education. The findings of this study may assist universities to be more accommodating to mature age students, for example orchestrating events before and throughout semester specifically for those who are studying part time or off campus. A venues for future research were identified including the need to investigate the different coping strategies for the many developmental stages encompassed by mature age students.