London Metropolitan University Research Institutes

Reaching the finishing line: some outcomes and results of online enabling education

Author(s) Muldoon, R. & Wijeyewardene, I.  
Publisher London: CiCe  
Year 2014  
Editor P. Cunningham & N. Fretwell (eds.) Innovative Practice and Research Trends in Identity, Citizenship and Education  
Age group -  
Tertiary enabling education aims to make the benefits of higher education accessible to people from disadvantaged groups, especially those from low socio-economic status backgrounds. The University of New England (UNE)’s fully online Pathways Enabling Program (PEP) was designed for those who do not otherwise have the necessary skills and credentials to enter university education (Muldoon, 2011). This paper builds on previous research by reporting study patterns, results, achievements and views of 531 students who have completed the PEP and subsequently enrolled in degrees at UNE since 2009. The attrition rate of these students is exactly half the attrition rate of PEP students and pass rates are very high. Furthermore, grade point averages are impressive. However, it appears that the vast majority of enrolled PEP students are deliberately progressing at the minimum possible rate, i.e. taking the maximum allowable time to complete their degrees. Additionally, they are largely continuing to study online rather than on-campus. Understanding lifestyle factors experienced by PEP students and making adjustments to the program to accommodate them has been critical to the success of the PEP (Muldoon & Wijeyewardene, 2013). It would seem that, similarly, lifestyle factors play a crucial role in subsequent mode of study choices and progression rates. It appears that traditional university experiences are not compatible with the lives of those who have in the past been marginalised socially, educationally and economically. Nevertheless, when previous barriers to education are removed and students are enabled to proceed in a manner and pace that does not conflict with the many other demands on their time and limited resources, the finishing line is clearly attainable, very often with flying colours.

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