Tableof Contents


1 CHAPTERONE……………………………………………………………………………………………………..5


    1. Research questions ………………………………………………………………………………………………6

1.1Overview of the studysituation……………………………………………………………………..7CHAPTERTWO2.1LITERATUREREVIEW………………………………………………………………………………….8

    1. Conclusion ……………………………………………………………………………………………………………….15

CHAPTERTHREEMETHODOLOGY3.1Introduction……………………………………………………………………………………………………163.2 Datacollection andAnalysis…………………………………………………………………………..18CHAPTERFOURRESULTS……………………………………………………………………………………………………………21





Recently,the number of graduates aged above 25 years is increasing drasticallyin the European colleges. Majority of the entrants have stable jobs.Similarly, others are successful entrepreneurs with familyresponsibility, yet, they opt to pursue degree programs instead ofinvest the capital and time in the development of their familyaffairs. However, there is little information to explain this trendbecause few studies have focused on the issue. The aim of thisinvestigation is to find out the reasons numerous late entry studentsprefer to pursue higher education at the prime phases when they aresupposed to be reaping the fruits of the education they have acquiredin the past. The study will be based on five NUC male students whoare either enrolled in a degree program in a European University orthe ones who have completed a program that he began while he wasabove 25 years. The evaluation reveals that the students’ ambitionand expectation for pursuing the degrees vary significantly, but theprimary ambition for the task is acquisition of higher social status,as well as, gain higher economic returns.

Keywords:higher education, economic returns, social stutus, middle-aged,late-entry students, social perception.


Numerouspeople in the United Kingdom go back often return to campuses topursue a degree course after they have exceeded 25 years.Non-traditional students, who are also referred to as adult, lateentry or mature learners, are men who are above twenty-five years oldand they have been out of school for certain a period of time. Once,the adults return to college they maintain duties such as occupation,family and other responsibilities of adult life, irrespective of fullor part-time statuses for these tasks or their studies (Knutsen,2011). Most of them pursue the degrees because they are convincedthat it is a universally sound idea to invest time and money ineducation because it often results in happier lives, higher pay andimproved opportunities. According to Melton, Strohl and Carnevale(2014, p. 19), college graduates have 84% higher income than theircolleagues who have not graduated. The belief that education isuniversally essential extends to the late entry students. By 2010,there were above 3.9 million students aged above 35 years enrolled ininstitutions that give degree programs in the UK. The number increaseby 20% in 2006. The Georgetown University Centre on Education and theWorkforce associates the drastic increase of the students to the highjob market competition. The UK economy experienced an economicdepression from 2006, which in turn decreased the job opportunities.Many businesses reduced most of the unskilled employees and replacedthem with contract workers. The move motivated numerous middle-agedworkers to go back to the education institutions to pursue degreesthat would in turn enhance their probability of securing permanentand better paying jobs. The study approximates that there would beapproximately 4.1 million middle-aged students pursuing degreeprograms in the European universities and colleges by 2015. Theintroduction of online academic programs as well as part time studiesthat the late entry students can attend after work have also playedan essential role in increasing the number of mature studentsregistered with the degree courses. On the same note, many corporatebusinesses have introduced partial sponsorship for the employeesinterested to advance their education. The scholarships reduce theloan burden of the middle-aged students while at the same time offerexcellent opportunities to climb the corporate ladder (Canning 2010,p. 63).

Traditionally,middle-aged students were composed of students who had only diplomasor individuals who had failed to secure a position in a universityafter high school education (Bellah &amp Robert 2007, p. 24).Nevertheless, a trend of graduates quitting stable jobs to pursuedegree or enrolling in part time courses has increased amongindividuals intending to switch careers. The varsities are alsoencouraging the trend through creating customized programs to suitthe schedule of individual students (Plummer 2010, p. 59).

Thepurpose of this qualitative research is to explore the reasons whyadult men think that a degree course is worth pursuing in theirlives. This topic is relevant because most adult males who enrolledin universities are drawn from working class background. In order toexplore their experiences, one has to understand the factors thatinfluence their decision, whether their desire to study is closelyrelated to their social status or material needs. The study willincorporate sociological theories such as the functionalist, theconflict and the symbolic interactionist philosophy to prove thatmiddle-aged students pursue degree courses in order to achieve highersocial status as well as material wealth (Dolan 2007, p. 715).

1.2 Researchquestions:

      • What are the differences and similarities, across age cohorts that affect programming strategies?

      • Which class of middle-aged men are likely to join institutions of higher learning?

      • What are the primary barriers to graduation the late entry students?

      • How does economic recession affect mature men’s decision to pursue a college degree?

      • What is the potential of the middle-aged men pursuing degrees in the future?

      • What are present promising policies and practices that are emerging NUC University that attract late entry students?

1.1.1Overviewof the study situation

Manyhigher education institutions in the UK and around the world have nowset up systems designed to suit working class men above 25 yearsinterested to acquire degree programs. For instance, the onlineclasses offer pre-recorded lessons that students can watch at theirown convenience (Lyn 2004, p. 255). On the same note, institutionssuch as the NUC provide shortened courses for experiencedprofessionals that lack formal qualifications. The significance ofthe learning opportunities is to provide late entry students withopportunities to achieve their preferred degrees at theirconvenience. Although most of the students pursuing degrees are theworking class, a small percentage is composed of reformed inmatesthat intend to turn over a new leaf once they complete their jailsentence. However, the global market forces are also critical drivingforces in the shift of workforce form the predominantly manufacturingtradition to the service sector jobs, therefore, workers require newskills to compete in the global workplace.


Accordingto Abrahamson (1978, p. 45), education for middle-aged men in the UKtraditionally served the function of economic and political needs.Nonetheless, sociologists contend the function of male schooling inthe modern society. For instance, the author bases his argument onDurkheim’s functionalist theory, which asserts that education helpsto serve the society requirements. As such, he claims that middleaged men pursue degree programs to acquire essential skills andexperience that can benefit the subsequent generation. The philosophyargues that the underlying value of education is to create acommonality that socializes individuals from diverse backgrounds intothe mainstream society. Durkheim describes education as moralteachings that unite diverse people. Consequently, the functionalistphilosophy associates adult education with inculcation of centralvalues such and social control. The individuals aim to acquireeconomic and political benefits that stimulate education (VäYrynen1991, p. 81). The United Kingdom citizens are renowned with obeyingauthority, following schedules and meeting deadlines. Nonetheless, abig percentage of the people who portray these values are the learnedindividuals. As such, the men above thirty five years pursueuniversity degrees in order to conform to the standards of thesociety.

Scott(2000, p. 28) attributes the United Kingdom’s middle-aged menmotivation to pursue degrees to the theory of individualism. Thelatter philosophy backs the independent action or liberty rights ofthe excellent individuals. Consequently, everyone aims to become thebest in life, career, education and social aspects in a society. Theresult of the high competition is an undying determination for maturestudents to advance education, which is likely to help them to raisea notch higher. The author notes that countries such as UK valueindividualism while other nations such as China and Japan tend tovalue team work (Eccles 2005, p. 108). As such, mature males lackmotivation to advance education of achieves personal success becausethe culture values collective success.

Connell(1989, p. 294) contends that regardless whether a society valuessocial or individual esteem, they always single out the mostsignificant contributor of the knowledge. As such, men pursue degreesduring middle age because they are in search of knowledge that canhelp to enhance their social position as key contributors of specificknowledge in their field of specialization. Education bestows honouron students because it is an achievement associated withdetermination and hard work. Consequently, many employers eitherpromote or review remuneration of new graduates because they improvethe value of productivity, innovation and business management amongother critical investment functions (Booth,Papaioannou &amp Sutton 2012, p. 19).The author notes that a graduate in an organization can help to bringhonour to the entire business since advanced education equip thestudents with new thinking styles and innovation approaches that theycan exploit to gain an edge over the competitors in their respectivefields (Gruenberg 1977, p. 15).

Levinson(1978, p.74) notes that United Kingdom is a capitalistic state. Assuch, students in such a nation quickly discover the significance ofhigh-end competition in the job market and work experience.Subsequently, UK citizens learn to associate victory with rewardsfrom early development stages. As a result, middle-aged men in searchof better remuneration, work promotion or to venture in a new careergo return to school to acquire the nurture their skills (Battle &ampWigfield 2003, p. 60). According to the author, education plays anessential role in sorting out individuals into diverse merit groups.For instance, a person with two degrees is considered moreintelligent and capable than another person with just one degree.Similarly, people who score higher in tests or graduate with firstclass honours. Sociologists WilbertMoore, Kingsley Davis and Talcott Parsons describe the merit as asocial placement. Mature students often return to school with the aimto increase the merit that a degree course bestows on an individual.

Dewey(1997, p. 47) asserts that some mature male students pursue degreesduring middle age because they want to establish a professionalnetwork with people in the same field. Education assists individualsto come across people from diverse backgrounds whom they sharesimilar interests. Education makes students liberal and able to viewdiverse issues from distinct perspectives. On the contrary, theauthor describes less educated individuals tend to be moreconservative. Many higher education institutions emphasize on thesignificance of research since it helps to instil knowledge as wellas alter the values of the students for the better. The networkconnection the professionals develop students develop after joiningcampus may remain either personal or professional. Whichever thecase, the interconnection is essential since individuals can seekassistance from their colleagues effortlessly.

Accordingto the conflict theory, education helps to maintain the power of theindividuals who maintain the society as well as enhance inequality.Just like the functional theory, the conflict theory attributeseducation with development of an orderly society. Nevertheless, thephilosophers differ in that the conflict logicians associate theeducation system with causing a status quo by making the people inthe lower classes feel weaker and compliant workers to thehigher-class people (Bartos&amp Wehr 2002, p. 29).Consequently, educational system enhances sorting practices alongspecific ethnic and class lines. Nonetheless, the power of educationcan help t take an individual from the working to the leadershipclass. As such, middle-aged men determined to crossover to the higherclass often opt to return to school and either advances theircertificates to a degree or take another course that can help tobreak the status quo that hinder them to acquire the merit of higherclass people (Bartos&amp Wehr 2002, p. 34).

Maag(2012) observes that some men pursue degrees for economical purposes. The author justifies her argument with the case of DeidreRomeo (40 years), who went back to college because he believed that adegree was necessary to earn promotion and higher income. Duringrecessions, many companies decrease their staff substantially. Themost affected victims are the inexperienced workers (Bassy2002, p. 33). As a result, such individuals opt toupgrade their academic certificates to minimize their chances oflosing jobs in case of an economic depression.

Brownand Duguid (2002, p. 79) claim that middle-aged men also opt topursue academic degrees because corporate are offering partialsponsorship to their employees. The culture is mainly prominent withbusinesses that encourage internal recruitment for lucrativepositions. Traditionally, managers often recruited externalprofessionals, thereby, discouraging internal employees from workinghard to impress the executives. For many people, a higher positioncomes with salary increment and job prestige such as house allowance,holidays and salary increment. Both factors enhance the social andeconomic benefits.

Kaldiand Griffiths (2013, p. 573) suggest that there is growing number ofadult students entering higher education in Europe because of thechanging curriculum requirements. New technologies have made theskills graduates had acquired many years back obsolete. Forinstance, professionals in fields such as security, storage andsecretarial courses are forced to go back to school to learn newmethods of conducting their specific jobs using cuttingedgetechnology such as virtual security or update new strategies ofaccomplishing tasks. Another example is a profession such asbookkeeping (Carstensen, Helene &amp Susan 2003, p. 111). In therecent past, schools and public libraries have started a new trend ofselling books that include distributing them in form of eBooksinstead of the outdated printed form. Subsequently, a library managerwould need further skills to understand the classification,distribution and recording of the incoming and outgoing books via theelectronic system. Careers such as automobile engineering alsorequire the concerned professionals to upgrade their skillsoccasionally in order to remain competent in the field (Goodnow &ampCollins1990, p. 54).

Knutsen(2011, p. 19) conducted a study that looked into both the intrinsicand extrinsic factors that motivate adult U.S. workers to pursuehigher education, Knutsen conducted a research using 200 students ofRobert Morris University who were pursuing degree studies as adultlearners (2011). The study uses a survey to measure the extents towhich various factors influences an individual’s motivation topursue higher education in adult life. Like other studies, thefactors that were noted to influence most students included but notlimited to increasing job opportunities and advancement in thepersonal growth. To indicate support to this finding is the fact thatin the Bureau of Labour Statistics (BLS) data, the total number ofemployment opportunities for workers with a bachelor or advanceddegrees such as masters and doctorate is projected to be 43 millionby the year 2016. The figure will be an increase of 5 million jobsfrom the 38 million recorded in 2006 or a growth rate of 13%. Theincrease in the predictable number of bachelor degrees in the UnitedStates workforce is mainly due to the change in available jobs to theworkforce. It is no wonder workers who have a bachelor’s degreeanticipate several job opportunities once they graduate in the future(Liming &amp Wolf, 2008).

Giventhe shift in the labour force from manufacturing to service sectorworks, employers are shifting towards education and considers it asthe most important factor during the hiring of new employees intotheir organisations (Silvia 2007, p. 29). The workplace hasexperienced the educational advancement of employees so as to competein the ever increasing complex global economy that face the worldeconomies. Human resource departments in many organizations prefergraduates with degrees because they are more inspired, friendly andlearning new tasks quickly. Besides, they are flexible, able toobserve strict deadlines for given duties as well as have betterproblem-solving skills. Their communication skills, which areimperative part of workmanship, are also better compared to highschool-educated personnel and other unskilled workers. These factorsalong with the decreased training time human resource department needto spend on degree-holders make college graduates the first choicefor employers (Knutsen 2011, p. 32). The global market forces are themain driving forces in the shift of workforce form the predominantlymanufacturing tradition to the service sector jobs, and thus allworkers require new skills to compete in the global workplace.

Accordingto the human capital theory, investment in education and trainingraises the prospective returns in the labour marketplace (Slaughter &ampRhoades 2004, p 44). Employers who are developing the intelligentcapital of their workforces create a more productive as well asexpertly skilled workforce. Different social skills, as well as,distinctly better career skills make an individual stand out amonghis or her peers (Deci 1975, p. 19).

Baleand Knopp (2012, p. 47) associates the convenience of accessingacademic programs with the increased registration of male adult menin the plans. For instance, online lessons make it possible forstudents with limited time to attend a brick and mortar classroom canaccess virtual lessons at any place across the world. On the samenote, accessing reputable universities is now convenient since theonline classes offers an affordable technique to study one’spreferred subject at their learning pace (Analoui 2000, p. 325).

Houle(1961) puts forward that adult learning is voluntary participation inan education system. Individuals shall only pursue degrees only aftera cogent decision-making process which considers accompaniments andalso the hurdles of the objective. The author points out threeintersecting aspects that inspire adults to degree courses. Theparamount aspect was goal-oriented, that is education as a means toachieve specific target, such as professional growth. The next aspectwas activity-oriented, which implies learning is for the purpose ofsocietal activities and relations. The third aspect waseducation-oriented, that is simply learning for the sake of learning(Houle 1961, p. 51).

Accordingto Houle (1961, p. 66), young goal-oriented students look ateducation as a means to achieve their well-defined goals. Theinvolvement of young men in learning undertakings assists to gratifya particular aim and only ensues after a precise need or interest isacknowledged (Crawford 2004). Therefore, the hunt for education byany person is not constant since it ordinarily happens after therecognition of either a precise or an unfulfilled objective. All ofHoule’s goal-orientated participants followed the same course ofaction by recognizing a goal, having a desire to achieve it and thencreating an opportunity to work towards the ambition.

Thelearners who were based on particular activities in the Houle’s(1961) study undertook learning with different objectives in mindconcerning their education. Some of the motivating aspects for thegroup included the need for social interaction, to addressloneliness, gain recognition for completion of a degree, bringing ona family tradition, or perhaps filling up extra time. The steadiestaspect for all the subjects in this group is the want to seek outsocial interaction. Eventually the pursuit of education forindividual in this group is a way of establishing ones’ personalself-concept (Eduventures 2008).

Forthe third group individuals, they view education as a routine. Forthem it might be hard to differentiate education from the rest oftheir life as they view it as another custom of entertainment. Theseindividuals are engrossed with learning with some of them indicatingthat learning is a portion of their genetic makeup. Miller (1967, p.95) offered a motivational ideal for aspects in an adult’s choiceto pursue a degree which lay emphasis on both positive and negativefactors. Miller’s theory proposes that the extent of conflict amidsingular needs and the observed forte of the social and situationalaspects define involvement in higher education pursuance.


Accordingto the qualitative resources reviewed in this study, the resultssupport the thesis statement that many middle-aged men pursue degreeswith the objective of raising their social statuses as well as toachieve economic benefits. For instance, Houle (1961) discovers thatsome men pursue degrees because it is a family trend for everyone tohave the achievement. On the same note, others sought educationneeded to achieve academic prestige such as overcoming loneliness aswell as establishing social interaction. Similarly, individualslooking for stable jobs advanced their skills in order to add highervalue to the services they offer to a given company. Subsequently,the resources attributed better remuneration and job promotion withadvancement in academic skills. Some companies offer sponsorship totheir employees in order to motivate them to advance their academicskills. The job privileges offered to individuals who have recentlygraduated includes remuneration increment.


Thisstudy adopts a qualitative approach of data collection. Its aim is toidentify the primary influences that make middle-aged men pursuedegrees. Qualitative research can use diverse data collectionstrategies such as one-on-one interview, telephone interviews andanalysis of peer-reviewed sources. Besides, the study will evaluatethe research sources using self-reflection approach that enhancesneutrality and objectivity which in turn incorporates theinterviewees as active accomplices. The approach is essential inresearch because it helps to eliminate the obstructions between therespondents and the researchers as it makes them part of theinvestigation team.

Theinvestigation used semi-structured interviews as one of the basicsources of information. All the interviewees were individuals agedabove thirty-five years who have either returned to college in thepast or had an ongoing program by the time of the study. Besides, therespondents were restricted to men, both married and unmarried,irrespective of their social, ethnic or racial background. In fact,the study sought to interview men from distinct backgrounds to avoidgathering biased data. I preferred to use open-ended questionnairessince they give the respondents higher flexibility to address issueswithout restriction. In addition, it allowed e to ask more questionsthat I had not included in the interview, but they arose as we werediscussing the subject. Since the interviewees provided directinformation that I was recording with the knowledge of therespondents, the information I gathered was qualitative data.

OnceI had collected adequate information, the next stage was discourseanalysis. The aim of this phase was to scrutinise the information Igathered. I gave described the content in details as I elaborated theunclear part from the interviewee in a way that would be easier for alistener or reader to comprehend the information conveniently. On thesame note, I supported some of the statements from the respondentusing books, articles and journals for better comprehension of theideas addressed. Besides, the evaluation also includes individualexplanation of the information I find necessary to elaborate (Butler,Deprez &amp Smith 2004, p. 20).

Mostof the information I applied in the discourse interpretation camefrom the secondary sources analysed in the literature review. Therecommended hypothesis will use sociological theories to determinethe primary motivations for middle-aged men to pursue degreeprograms. In particular, the overview will establish if the studentsare either motivated by economic reasons or desire to achievespecific social statuses. Theoretical viewpoint will help tounderstand the information better as the philosophies generalizepotential conditions that attract late entry students to pursue thedegree programs (Dweck2000, p. 29).

Inaddition, the methodology helped me to build a strong relationshipwith the interviewees. Consequently, I could ask individualsquestions with confidence. The main benefit of the methodology isthat it guaranteed achievement delivery of detailed coverage of thetarget question as well as valid data since I could ask theinterviewees direct questions on issues that were unclear (Cross1981, p. 50).An informal data collection method was applied in data collectionsince it allows the interviewer to ask direct question on unclearissues concerning the topic. Moreover, the direct contact methodenhanced confidentiality since the patients shared only the essentialvalues.

3.2 Datacollection and Analysis

Ihave chosen semi-structured interviews because it will allow a twoway communication and thus limit the element of excessive control.The technique is an overarching method of interview commonly used inqualitative research. One of the main benefits is that it is fluidand flexible, unlike structured interviews, which comes withrestricted sequence of questions to be used when interviewingparticipants (Lewis-Beck, Bryman &amp Futing L. 2004). According toBernard (2000, p. 72) the investigation method alsofacilitatesefficient time usage. Besides, it encourages correspondence to follownew lead thusenabling opportunity to obtain valid and reliableinformation. The semi-structured interviews differ from thestructured varieties in that the latter uses questions withrestricted answers and explanation. Moreover, structured intervieweesuse questions that can be easily understood, therefore, it is astandard process of investigation.

Thestudy participants were five male students aged above 25 years whohad either pursued a degree in the past as well as persons in sameage bracket who are still pursuing a degree. We interviewed five NUCmale students in a week’s time. The study took long because weensured to provide adequate time to the graduates to think deeply theincentives that made them to pursue degree programs quite late intheir life. In order to diversify the understanding of the variousprofessionals who participated in the study, we interviewedprofessionals with stable jobs, unemployed professionals and men withfamilies. The main consideration was age bracket and the record ofhaving pursued a degree in the past – after exceeding 25 years.

Wefound the participants through referral method. We visited NUCUniversity and requested mature male students to volunteer in astudy that aims to analyse the major factors that push students whoare supposed to be settled in stable professions to enrol with degreeprograms. The few we found in the education facilities in turnreferred us to their friends who had graduated in the past. Besides,we also placed online advertisements in the social media as well asdistributed flyers in the street requesting potential interviewees tocontact us. Within a week, we had an overwhelming response ofgraduates who were willing to assist us accomplish the research.

Thefirst approach before interviewing the candidates was acquiringinformed consent through briefing them the information we intended tocollect, the methods we will use and the application of the data wegathered (Kevern, Ricketts &ampWebb 1999, p. 790). We also ensuredthat every candidate signed an informed consent contract withdetailed information concerning the primary use of the data wegathered. Moreover, we guaranteed the respondents that we would keeptheir identity confidential, but they could also choose not toparticipate in the study if they were not comfortable with theobjective of the study we were doing.

Sincethe interviews were semi-structured, we met some of the respondentsone-on-one while we interviewed others via online methods such asonline chats, video calls and live phone calls. However, we gave thelive interview method priority because we could interact with therespondents prior to the examination. It proved easy to ask difficultand confidential questions the people whom we interacted withpersonally because we began by building strong interpersonalrelationships (Turner 2010). After collecting the data, wesummarized the background of the professionals as well as the reasonsthat pushed them into pursuing a college degree at the late entrystage. We had various categories that included acquisition ofspecific social class, economic reasons, adventure, convenience andnetwork development. As such, we ensured to inquire from eachcandidate the incentive that made him or her opt to pursue a degreeafter the conventional timeframe had already passed (Gouldner 1962,p. 201).

Duringthe study, there were a number of ethical studies we considered.First, we ensured that to keep the private information of therespondents confidential. The documented interviews were stored in asecure safe. Besides, the rooms where the interviews were takingplace were soundproof to prevent eavesdropping of the interviewees’information by unauthorized individuals (Lave1988, p. 25).

Second,we informed the respondents how we were intending to use the data wegathered. We ensured that every respondent was aware that we wouldshare the analysed data outcome with the public because the studyaimed at establishing the reasons many men opt to pursue degreecourses at or past middle-age. Third, we discussed regardingintellectual property rights of the clients’ comprehensively. Thepremise of the discussion was to avoid potential conflict that couldarise as a result of authorship contest. Lastly, we discussed theincentives that respondents could expect. For instance, we providedthe live interviewees with lunch and transport compensation. However,we did not have any other specific reward for the participants(Gittins 2009). As such, we ascertained to inform the intervieweesthe things they could expect.

Duringthe interview, we anticipate to experience diverse challenges such aslimitation of the answers because the semi-structured interviewsrestrict the information a respondent can cover. However, we plan toovercome the challenge through encouraging live interview that willallow the respondents to interact with the interviewers prior to theactual session. Subsequently, the team will establish a good rapportwith the individuals which will enable them to ask the respondentseven personal questions. The interviews will be conducted at theNewham University Centre (NCUC) campus, this could be better way tohave face-to-face interviews with the students.


Thepurpose of this chapter is to analyse and present the major findingsfor the interviews conducted as well as interpret the outcome. In theevaluation, a part of the result will focus on the incentives thatmake mature men to invest in education at the late stages in theirlives instead of focusing on developing themselves. On the samenote, the analysis will determine whether racial background, as wellas the socioeconomic statuses of the participants played a role ininfluencing their determination to pursue the degree course.Moreover, the section will also be interested to establish whetherthere are universities of colleges that students prefer when they areconsidering to advance their academic programs. If so, theinterviewer will prompt the respondents to elaborate the benefits aswell as compare the facilities with other universities.

Similarly,we will consider the challenges that middle-aged students face aftermaking a decision to pursue a degree. As a precaution to avoidmisinterpreting the responses we received, we will include somedirect quotations we recorded from the interview. Most of therespondents claimed that they decided to pursue a degree since it wasthe most promising strategy to receive promotion as well asremuneration increase (Dohm &amp Wyatt 2002, p. 8).

However,two interviewees were forced by circumstances. Their skills becameobsolete over time. As a result, the human resource management wasrecruiting fresh graduates and remunerating some of them at over 100%higher compensation package. In one case, the student receivedabrupt contract termination because his employer wanted torestructure the company (Penslar 1995, p. 51).

Ilost my job in 2008 at the height of the economic depression. Myemployer claimed that the company was no longer making adequate moneyto sustain its previous number of employers. As such, he said that itneeded to size down by letting go most of the unskilled employees. Iwas one of the expendable staff members. However, I decided to pursuea degree because none of the skilled professionals were dismissedfrom their posts. Over 70% of the staff dismissed provided eitherunskilled or non-technical services…” (Erick).

Hiscolleague claimed that he was given the regular three months noticeto search for an alternative job because the company wanted toreplace his services with a fresh candidate informed about the newskills.

Ireceive a compulsory early retirement later. I had no alternativeother than to quit the company and use my savings to upgrade myskills. In any case, I have always desired to complete my degreeprogram so that I can earn a better living.” ( Zack).

Amongthe major changes included incorporation of advanced technology thatnone of them could operate. One of the workers who were interdicteddecided to pursue a degree so that he could familiarize with thelatest technology developments (Dohm, 2000).

Onthe contrary, one graduate confessed that he is college to satisfyhis personal achievement so that they can fit in their peer groups.

Everyonein my family has a degree. I was an exception because I opted topursue a military career instead of joining the University of Oxfordand major in business or medicine technology so that I can end up asa director in one of our family enterprises. My siblings, parents andfriends supported my decision to break the routine of the family.However, I was injured in Afghanistan after a lucrative militarycareer for fifteen years. My doctor claimed I was no longer fit forthe service so I was retired early. Since I had to change career intoa regular job in my family businesses, I decided to go back to theuniversity and pursue a degree…” (James, ex-marine officer).

Anotherrespondent named Peter emphasised on the influence of relatives andsocial status that may originate from an individual through hispersonal experience.

Mydream career was being a pharmacist. Nevertheless, I was bedriddenmost of the time by chronic childhood diabetes. Luckily, I recoveredfully from the diseases later in life. I started school at the age ofeighteen. I had financial problems so I deferred attending collegeafter I earned a high school diploma. Fortunately, my employeroffered incentives for the unskilled workers as he promised to giveup to 80% scholarships to the staff that were interested to pursuespecialized skills that could accelerate the growth of theorganization. The friendly opportunity encouraged me to enrol for auniversity degree as a late entry student…” (Peter).

Peterand James come a stable family or while James have personalinvestments that did not necessarily require degree qualifications tomanage them. Nevertheless, they joined NUC just for the sake ofjoining the learned social class. Peter confessed to us that he wasin the University because he wanted to befriend a graduate spouse.

Iwanted to marry a graduate girlfriend, but I was unable to find aserious lover in five years. I decided to pursue a degree program inOxford University so that I could establish network and friendshipwith potential women who could fit my dream wife. Although I am notplanning to quit the degree once I find a suitable lover, I doubt ifI will ever need the experience in my life.” (Peter). I was impressed by his honesty because he confessed he was purposelyin the university because he wanted to find a marriage partner.

Duringthe interview, we inquired from the respondents the major challengesthey faced when making the decision to pursue degree programs. Wediscovered that the perception of adult learning varies greatly amongdistinct individuals and groups. For instance, formal education andlearning beyond certain age have been treated differently, given thelimited life span and the perception of the ambition as self-centred.

Inanother heartbreaking confession, Titus could not hold his tearsback. “Myparents said I would die in less than five years after I contractedHIV/AIDS at twenty-two. I suffered from stress and depression forover ten years. I suffered from ulcers and drug abuse until I wasrescued by a non-governmental organization that counselled and placedme in a university to pursue psychology and counselling.”

Theissue of technology convenience also arose as a major contributor ofmiddle-aged men enrolling with the programs.

Duringthe interview, we inquired from the respondents the major challengesthey faced when making the decision to pursue degree programs. Wediscovered that the perception of adult learning varies greatly amongdistinct individuals and groups. For instance, formal education andlearning beyond certain age have been treated differently, given thelimited life span and the perception of the ambition as self-centred.

Inanother heartbreaking confession, Titus could not hold his tearsback. “Myparents said I would die in less than five years after I contractedHIV/AIDS at twenty-two. I suffered from stress and depression forover ten years. I suffered from ulcers and drug abuse until I wasrescued by a non-governmental organization that counselled and placedme in a university to pursue psychology and counselling.”

Theissue of technology convenience also arose as a major contributor ofmiddle-aged men enrolling with the programs.

Iam the sole breadwinner in a family of five. I also work for eighthours in a day. I could not relocate to a place close to an educationinstitution where I could do pursue a degree because it wasimpossible to quit my job. Fortunately, the online programs andholiday studies have made university education so convenient that Ican now at night and still work during the day.” (Erick).

Finally,Peter associated the motivation with family prestige. “Ienrolled with the program because my family considers me a disgracebecause I do not have a degree.”(Peter).

Inconclusion, the study analysed the incentives that make middle-agedindividuals to enrol in degree courses despite either havinglucrative careers or being at an age that is considerable past thelearning phase. The results indicate that some people go back toschool because they want to update their skills in their respectiveprofession while others just want to enter into the social class ofgraduates. Majority claims that they opted to advance their skills sothat they could acquire better remuneration as well as rise on thecorporate ladder. However, the least number claimed that they weremotivated by the family culture. Since everyone has a degree, therelatives pushed them to follow suit as a way to show theirsolidarity with the culture of their family (Resnick 1989, p. 22).Conversly, some notes that they were either forced to study a newcourse that would enable them to venture into a new profession whilethe majority just took advantage of the scholarship programs theycould access at their workplace.


Theprimary aim of this chapter is to evaluate the interview resultsin-depth. It determines the value of the push-factors that enablegraduates to pursue degree certificates as well as the challengesthat often face. The analysis will be based on the research questionslisted at the beginning of the study. A good understanding of theconcepts derived from the research is essential to the human resourcemanagers and entrepreneurs as the information will act as a guide tohelp them prepare work environment tailored for the mutual benefitsof the entrepreneurs and the workers.

Oneof themes that emerge from the interview is that humans are evercompeting for scarce resources such as high income jobs, leadershipand recognition in the society. As a result, the conflict theoryasserts that humans remain competitive because they want to achievethe best in a world where competition is so high. The result of thedesire to become dominant makes them compete among themselves. Wilson(1997, p. 350) lists higher education as one of the primary factorsthat individuals use to acquire higher social status. Manyrespondents associated their desire to pursue degree with symbolism.It enhances their individuality, confidence, reasoning and eveninteraction capacity. In fact, some respondents were so convincedthat education determines one social class such that they had topursue a degree so that they could marry university material girls.

Accordingto the rational choice theory, social systems are positioned inapproaches that configure the substitutes and outcome individualsface so that they can behave logically. As such, humans are forced toestablish the options that meet their individual goals best withinthe limitations of the social systems and the benefits they canachieve. The premise implies that humans like alternatives thatguarantee them the highest returns. Three respondents claimed thatthey dedicated their time to pursue degrees so that they can acquireknowledge that would give them an edge over the uneducated people.Deciand Ryan (1991, p. 51) illustrate the value of rational choiceideology using the staff at a given workplace. The employer prefersto retain the most educated professionals because they are oftenversatile and can accomplish more tasks than the unskillfulemployees. The study supports the theory since some intervieweesclaimed that they were interdicted during the economic depressionwhile their colleagues who had at least degree certificate wereretained. Toynton (2005, p. 109) attributes academic qualificationsto information acquisition, which is necessary for enhancedindividual productivity. As such, most men pursue degreequalifications to attain job security.

Accordingto Peters (2005, p. 277), societies where people have similareducation levels, work type and wealth are interconnected bymechanical solidarity. The situation was mainly common in theancient simple societies where people practised simple lifestyles.Nevertheless, contemporary communities strive to become the best ofthe best. Education is a valuable factor that helps to create socialdifferences in terms of wealth and personal social statuses. Forinstance, a degree holder often earns higher compensation than anindividual who have no skills in any given career. “Ichose to pursue a degree so that I can secure my present job. In thelast economic depression, many organizations terminated the contractsof the unskilled workers.”One of the respondents asserts when we asked him why he chose to joina degree program at such a late stage in life.

Weare living in an era of organic solidarity. Everyone needs to beunique in order to live a good life.”One of the interviewees observed. He informed us that he waspurposely in the university to acquire knowledge that he believedwould open up his mind for the better. Carstensen, Derek and Susan(1999, p. 168) complements his reflection with the findings of theirstudies which concludes that varying education levels create distinctpersonal beliefs and values. The research found that the ideology isessential in complex and industrialized countries such as the UnitedKingdom.

Finally,some men think they are a powerful gender to women. However,intellectual excellence defines the strength of men instead of thetraditional physical strength. Therefore, middle-aged looking tocompete with the female gender pursues higher education. Academicknowledge is the gateway for success such as invention of machineriesand development of new ideologies among other knowledge that emanatesfrom personal intelligence level. In summary, all the respondentsassociated their desire to pursue the degree course with enhancementof their social statuses through increased earnings and acquisitionof knowledge, which is critical to defining one’s social class. Assuch, the study supported the hypothesis which claimed that numerousmiddle-aged men opt to pursue degree to acquire higher socialstatuses as well as gain higher economic benefits.



Thesignificance of this research was to analyse some of the incentivesthat push middle-aged graduates to pursue degree courses at thatadvanced stage. The study explores the present job market, individualtastes, barriers that prevent potential graduates from earning thedegrees and the necessary changes to streamline the UK universitiesin preparation for the graduates.


Thestudy concludes that late entry students have many reasons that givethem determination to return to pursue degrees. However, Monetary andsocial status are the critical incentives for advancing education.Degree holders earn more as well as acquire higher marketability thatmakes their job stable. On the same note, educated people arenaturally respected for their industriousness and vast knowledge.


Althoughthere are many middle-aged students opting to pursue college degrees,further studies are needed to determine if the cost incurred as wellas their comprehension level compared to the youthful students. Moreover, the questions of race and socioeconomic background areother critical factors that prospective students should address. Ella and Kahu et al. (2000, p. 81) observes that late entry studentsface some form of conflict such as family responsibility, educationand the rush to invest among other crises. As such, the personalconflicts may compromise the value of education or even thesuitability of mature students. Future analyses should also considera wide range of personal, sociocultural factors, the access toquality space and time, and how they are managed especially wherefamily’s issues are involved (Murphy and Fleming 2000, p. 86). Thevalue of the study would be to establish whether scholars can arguethat that transition to higher learning rest on terms that ensure thevital process of maintaining flexibility and engagement is carefullyguarded (Keeney &amp Keeney 2009, p. 21).


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