Students unite to voice a more mature voice

Published 5 July 2012

Mature age students are calling on government and universities to consider their growing contribution to the sector ahead of the first National Mature Age Student Network Australia (MASNA) conference at Southern Cross University this weekend.

The conference will be held at the Gold Coast campus and will feature a number of keynote speakers who completed degrees as mature age students and have gone on to excel in academia or business. It is being hosted by SCU’s Gold Coast and Tweed Heads student association CoastRs.

“Traditionally, most people think of university students as those who are fresh out of high school,” CoastRs president and MASNA vice-president Tara Swain said.

“Increasingly that is not the case. Nationwide the percentage of mature age students is now at 58 per cent but we have been under-represented in student associations.

“Mature age students also have different expectations and needs when they go to university. Many are more interested in childcare facilities rather than if there is a student bar. Their priorities are different because they could be juggling jobs, families and mortgages.”

More than 20 universities from across Australia will be represented at the conference. There will also be discussion about what age should constitute a mature age student.

“At the moment a mature age student is anyone aged over 21,” Ms Swain said.

“I don’t think many 22-year-olds would classify themselves as mature age. We believe the age should be lifted to 25. This would allow the classification of mature age students to be more representative of the group.”

While MASNA is campaigning for greater recognition, Ms Swain recognised that most universities have made the experience of studying as a mature age student more flexible.

“The development of distance education has enabled many mature age students to continue in employment while studying,” she said.

“Universities are so much more flexible when it comes to study options today which enhances the mature age student experience.”

The MASNA Conference will be held on July 7 and 8 from 9am to 3pm at the Gold Coast campus in room A1.29.

Photo: Tara Swain.

Media contact: Steve Spinks media officer, Southern Cross University Gold Coast and Tweed Heads, 07 5589 3024 or 0417 288 794.