Partners in learning? A qualitative study of the intimate relationships of partnered mature students in post-secondary education
Mature postsecondary students face unique challenges in negotiating both academic and familial responsibilities beyond those faced by their traditional-aged peers. This study examined the bidirectional influences between intimate relationships and postsecondary study. Researchers conducted 28 semi-structured phone interviews with heterosexual, cisgender, partnered mature students attending universities in southern Ontario, Canada. Through a thematic analysis, the research indicated that school had a number of negative impacts on mature students’ relationships; however, school also had some positive impacts. Intimate relationships were also said to have an impact on academic success. Mature students with supportive partners described being able to focus on school and perform better, while students with less supportive partners described difficulties allotting the time required for school. The article recommends that postsecondary educational institutions acknowledge the unique challenges faced by partnered mature learners and offer targeted support services.