Stakeholders’ Views on the Introduction of a Mature Age Pre-entry Support Programme at the University of Eswatini

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Commonwealth of Learning (COL)

Universities, the world over, continue to seek ways of enhancing access into university programmes for often marginalised groups. Mature Age Entry (MAE) programmes are often utilised as alternative admission routes to admit mature and working adults into the university. However, without adequate preparatory support applicants often fail the mature age entry examination and are not admitted. The study sought to examine views of key stakeholders on the need and nature of a pre-entry support programme for mature age applicants with the aim to come up with a suitable training model in the context of the university. The study utilised a convergent parallel mixed methods research design. A total of 40 stakeholders (representatives of relevant Government ministries, current students, applicants who were not successful in previous MAE examination, lecturers and university administrative staff involved in MAE examinations) were purposively identified to participate in the study through semi-structured questionnaires and focus group discussions. In addition to demographic information, the research instruments asked participants about the need or demand for the programme, programme structure, entry requirements, and training model, inter alia. Quantitative data were analysed through percentages using the Statistical Package of Social Sciences (SPSS). Content analysis was used for qualitative data. The majority of consulted stakeholders supported the introduction of a pre-entry training programme to support mature age entry applicants prior to the examination. The identified content areas for support include English language, mathematics, sciences, and commerce subjects. The stakeholders advocated for a novel training model using blended, self-directed learning materials adopting the open and distance learning approach. // The paper presentation will conclude by inviting conference participants to share experiences about mature age entry programmes from their different contexts. // Paper ID 207