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Adult Learners in Higher Education

Current research

The DLL’s research into adult learners in South African higher education explores insights at a systems level into the work and study influences that may affect student success, and also investigates the primary motivations of adult learners entering higher education.

In partnership with the South African Qualifications Authority (SAQA) and within a research project on LIFELONG LEARNING AND NATIONAL QUALIFICATIONS FRAMEWORKS, we have a new 4 year research project on Professional Development and Innovation and its Implications for Higher Education Provision. It focuses on:  What are the barriers and affordances for learners to be able to inhabit a LLL system? How do the barriers or affordances play out at policy, institutional, professional or individual levels, for learners, especially professionals/workers and educators? How do national and institutional policies and practices inhibit or encourage possibilities for LLL? How do professional, work-based practices interface and interpenetrate higher education institutions’ abilities for professional development and innovation, or vice versa?

For more information, contact: Professor Shirley Walters

Completed research

DLL conducts annual research which monitors the lifelong learning mission at UWC, which involved colleagues and students from inside and outside UWC. This research is part of the annual monitoring of the implementation of the lifelong learning mission and is part of a research niche area within the NRF. During the annual part-time orientation workshop in January 2006, 2007 and 2008 surveys were conducted about the profile of participants. The monitoring of lifelong learning at UWC started in 2003. The following studies have since been produced:

Watters, K., Koetsier, J. and Walters, S., 2003. Discussiondocument: Understanding the dynamics of part-time studies at UWC, Cape Town, South Africa: UWC.

Download a pdf of the document (size 140kb)

Senate Lifelong Learning Committee (SLLC), 2004. The accredited part-time studies provision at UWC, Cape Town, South Africa: UWC.

Download a pdf of the document (size 160kb)

Walters, S. and Koetsier, J., 2006. Working adults learning in South African higher education. Perspectives in Education, 24 (3), pp97-108.

February, C. and Koetsier, J., 2007. Working adult students in the after-hours programmes of the

Faculty of Economic and Management Sciences at the University of the Western Cape. Research study commissioned by the Senate Lifelong Learning Committee (SLLC), Cape Town, South Africa: UWC.

Download a pdf of the study (size 184kb)

February, C. and Koetsier, J., 2007. What ‘support’ and ‘success’ means to a group of working adults within one faculty at a South African higher education institution. Paper for the 5th International Conference on Research Work and Learning, December 2-5, Stellenbosch, South Africa.

 Download a pdf of the paper (size 112kb)

 For further information contact: Shirley Walters, email; Mark Abrahams, email

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