An investigation into the provision of support for mature international students at UK HEIs to foster belonging


  • Aneeza Pervez University of Nottingham
  • Dangeni Newcastle University
  • Niki Koutrou University of Sunderland in London
  • Clare Miller Leeds Trinity University
  • Charlotte Wisson University of Derby


Widening participation and lifelong learning have emerged as areas of keen debate in Higher Education. The rapid expansion of international students in UK HEIs has led universities across the UK to turn their attention towards ensuring that students have the necessary foundations to succeed in their educational endeavors. However, quite often students with multiple characteristics (‘intersectionality’) are marginalized. An example of such a group is mature international students, who may be overlooked and under-supported. Current literature indicates that both mature and international students do not fit in the traditional university culture with additional family, work, and financial pressures, often leading them to be further removed from the university community, resulting in a weaker sense of belonging. Whilst student belonging has become the focus of research in HEIs, limited research exists into the work being done to support the belonging of mature international students. Drawing upon primary and secondary data from across 44 UK HEIs, this study highlights the support offered to mature international students and gaps in support provision, highlighted by researchers and practitioners. Our results show that whilst a wide range of support exists to foster the belonging of mature or international students, this is largely aimed at one group rather than mature international students as a whole. The study highlights the importance of moving away from a deficit model and ensuring that HEIs focus on facilitating cultural inclusivity.


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How to Cite

Pervez, A., Dangeni, Koutrou, N. ., Miller, C. ., & Wisson, C. . (2024). An investigation into the provision of support for mature international students at UK HEIs to foster belonging. Student Engagement in Higher Education Journal, 5(2), 148–168. Retrieved from