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Non-Traditional Students

What is a Non-Traditional Student?

There is no definitive definition of ‘non-traditional student’. The term is generally used to refer to students who belong to groups who did not traditionally enter the higher education system in significant numbers.

Historically, most students who entered higher education in Ireland shared common characteristics. They were:

  • from middle class backgrounds,
  • of school leaving age (usually eighteen or nineteen),
  • spoke English as their first language,
  • had no disabilities,
  • studied full time with no significant external responsibilities.

This is beginning to change as more students from 'non-traditional' backgrounds enter university.

students in a lecture

Any student who does not share all the characteristics noted above can be considered a non-traditional student. For example:

  • TAP students,
  • Mature students,
  • International Students,
  • Students from ethnic minorities,
  • Disabled Students,
  • Students who are parents / carers,
  • Travellers,
  • Part-time students.

Some non-traditional students enter Trinity College via specialist access routes:

As non-traditional students come from diverse backgrounds, their needs are diverse. Specific needs arise for many different reasons. For example, students may have to balance academic study with external responsibilities, manage disabilities, or cope with studying within an unfamiliar educational culture or working through English, when is not their first language.

Higher level teaching and assessment methods have been developed to suit the needs of the traditional student body and often do not take account of the varied needs of a diverse student body.

TIC is designed to respond to the needs of the modern student population by enabling staff to embed inclusive practices within their teaching and assessment.


Last updated 27 March 2018 by Trinity Inclusive Curriculum (Email).