TERTIARY EDUCATION AND THE DIRECTION FOR FUTURE RESEARCH: ACCOMMODATING THE SHIFTING DEMOGRAPHICS OF THE CARIBBEAN'S TERTIARY STUDENT
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Within recent times, governing bodies throughout the Caribbean region have been heavily concentrating upon highlighting the value of higher education. They have subsequently sought to widen access to such educational opportunities in an effort to propel their nations forward against an international backdrop of simultaneously expansive higher education incentives. This heightened emphasis has sparked an overwhelming demand among citizens for tertiary qualification. A by-product of this has been the growth of private tertiary institutions and a subsequent diversification of the Caribbean region's tertiary student body. The phenomenon of the on-traditional student has risen to the fore and is especially prominent at the University of the West Indies St. Augustine campus since the participation of these more mature students are encouraged through the campus' Evening University Programme. The present paper will make the argument that student needs must be researched in order to cater for this heterogeneous student body. Furthermore, the incorporation of more mature students especially at the undergraduate level presents a novel area of research that requires immediate investigation. The factors impacting upon their motivation and the various challenges endured while pursuing their undergraduate degrees should be examined as these findings can lend themselves to institutional and policy reform. Recommendations for future research are also outlined. Finally, the paper will advocate that such student-centered inquiry is essential for the true benefits of the tertiary sector to be harnessed.
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