A New Public at Portuguese Higher Education Institutions: The Case of Non-Traditional Adult Students in the University of Aveiro, during the Academic Year 2006-2007

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Nowadays, we are all assisting to several changes in various spheres of our lives and being requested to participate in multiple initiatives, not only personal, but also professional ones. Consequently, new challenges are required to be answered for all of us and, specially, for educational institutions, which have an essential role in our society. According to the specific Portuguese higher educational context, since the academic year 2006-2007, a new law decree (n. 64/2004) has approved adults over 23 years old can enter in higher education institutions. These non-traditional adult students, who have dropped out school for different reasons, have certain characteristics, some are mentioned in the decree and others can be found in their personal, academic, professional profile, which need to be analysed. Facing this new reality, it is urgent to collect several, selected and accurate data, so that higher education institutions may learn to respond to new challenges, to facilitate students’ transition, insertion and adaptation, to enrich themselves with changes and diversity, to respond to various requests, putting in practice as many answers as this new era requires. In order to sustain our study, we should look at European official documents of Bologna Process, dialoguing them with those concerning lifelong learning policies. Therefore, we must underline the great potential that "education and training systems and particularly (…) the universities and other higher education institutions" (Kelo, 2006) have to the continuous human development (Zabalza, 2002) and the (re)creation of a consistent knowledge society. Finally, we remember the strong up-to-date idea of Barnett (1997): we change, the world changes and all of us can contribute and be involved actively and prosperously towards a personal and worldwide future that is being permanently constructed. So, everyone ought to be prepared with the proper tools to face this constant "life-world becoming".

Keywords: Non-Traditional Adult Students, Higher Education, Bologna Process, Lifelong Learning
Stream: Adult, Vocational, Tertiary and Professional Learning
Presentation Type: Virtual Presentation in English
Paper: A paper has not yet been submitted.

Dr Ana Vitória Baptista

M.Ed. Student and Researcher, Department of Social Sciences, University of Aveiro
Aveiro, Aveiro, Portugal

José José Tavares

Professor, Researcher, Coordinator and M.Ed. Supervisor., Social Sciences and Higher Education Research and Intervention Unit., University of Aveiro

José Bessa

Researcher and M.Ed. Supervisor, Social Sciences and Higher Education Research and Intervention Unit., University of Aveiro

Ref: L08P0078