A growing number of studies are focusing on the ┐fit┐ between the higher education student and the educational institution. These studies show that a lack of fit between the two generates anxiety, ultimately acting as a barrier to student learning. Research involving 23 higher education students attending a dual-sector further and higher education college in Northern Ireland was conducted in order to examine ┐this fit┐. It was assumed that this fit should be greatest in a local institute serving the needs of its local population.
Findings however highlight that the expectation of what a student is and should be by an institute is not in tandem to the life the student lives. Study participants cited an institute lacking in understanding; an institutional habitus that does little to make this a space that supports the learning needs of students.
While this lack of understanding has been found in traditional higher education institutions, it is most surprising to find that it exists in a dual-sector organisation. The paper concludes that those who deliver higher education in this space must understand and respond to the modern-day student, before success of this initiative can be achieved.