Publication Details

O'Shea, S. (2016). Navigating the knowledge sets of older learners: Exploring the concept of experiential capital amongst first-in-family mature age students. HE: Transforming lives through life-wide learning? (pp. 112-116). The Open University.


This paper is based upon research with university students who were first in their family to come to university. The studies sought to explore how attending university impacted upon both the learners and their families, particularly the intergenerational implications of this attendance. Drawing on in-depth interviews conducted with older university students, this paper will focus on how this mature cohort articulated the ways in which they drew upon life and work experiences in their transition to university. The research indicates that these learners had access to additional capitals in the higher education environment including what has been termed as 'experiential capital'. In exploring the characteristics and sources of this experiential capital, the paper will include suggestions about how higher education institutions might seek to both recognise and nurture this resource within the university environment.