Facilitating Lifelong Learning for Mature Part-time Students: Findings from South Africa and Norway


  • Tone Vold Inland Norway University of Applied Sciences
  • Ann Lourens Nelson Mandela University, Summerstrand Campus North, South Africa
  • Linda V. Kiønig Inland Norway University of Applied Sciences, Rena, Norway
  • Curwyn Mapaling University of Johannesburg, Department of Psychology, Johannesburg, South Africa




hybrid education, facilitating lifelong learning, work-life balance, work-education balance


When the COVID-19 pandemic spread, governments worldwide ordered most of the population to stay at home. From one day to the other all lecturing in higher education institutions (HEIs) had to be online. For many this resulted in solitude and isolation, something that in turn ad an effect on students’ well-being and academic achievements. The situation was somewhat different for mature part-time students (MPTS). They had struggled with being able to attend classes (at a campus), sometimes feeling alienated and left “on their own”. During the pandemic, they were able to attend more lectures as they were offered online. After the pandemic, most courses were offered as a hybrid version; they could return to campus or follow the courses online. Some students returned to campus, but not as many as one hoped. Hence, the student well-being and the academic achievements did not improve as much as hoped and expected. There have been several discourses regarding “forcing” students back to campus in order to improve the students’ situation and to regain the personal contact with the students. However, for one growing group of students, the MPTS’, the hybridity is what has brought them closer to the campus. For these students, the academic achievements have not deteriorated nor their well-being. In fact, investigations show that the hybrid education enables a life-long education situation. In this paper we present investigations from two universities from two very different parts of the world; The Inland Norway University of Applied Sciences, Norway and Nelson Mandela University, South Africa. Our joint research has focussed on looking at how hybridity can be adapted in order to better facilitate for the MPTS to maintain in a life-ling learning situation supporting academic success and ensuring retention, as this group is now no longer in a home office, but back in a work-life.