Examining the Challenges Faced by International Women with Preschool Children Studying for a Postgraduate Built Environment Degree in the UK
Keywords:Alumnae, built environment, international students, postgraduate, preschool children, sense of belonging, women
This paper examines the academic experiences of five mature, mid-career female international student-parents with preschool children studying on a one-year Built Environment master’s degree in the United Kingdom. The group was selected to form a purposive small-scale study because they had preschool children with them while studying. Tinto’s “sense of belonging” was used as a theoretical framework and the data revealed the stress that this group experienced when returning to full-time study while caring for a preschool child or children. Balancing the academic demands of a one-year full-time degree with childcare was compounded by a lack of appropriate support from the university. Although universities in general were viewed as offering a welcoming environment, this group of students often felt disappointed with their experience. Strategies for addressing identified barriers are proposed that contribute to widening existing inclusive university policies that address the specific needs of this group of female students.
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