The representation of mature students in governing bodies of a Portuguese university

‘We are all equal, but some are more equal than others’!?


  • José Pedro Amorim CIIE/FPCE-University of Porto and Paulo Freire Institute of Portugal
  • Felismina Viterbo FPCE-University of Porto



mature students, student representation, student participation, higher education, justice


With this text, we try to understand if – and if so, how – mature students are represented by and in the governing bodies of higher education institutions. With a theoretical framework that values above all the institutional dimension, we carried out thirteen semi-structured interviews with students and faculty members who are part of the various governing bodies with student representation of a Portuguese higher education institution. The data show that (i) the functioning of these bodies tends to be known only by the students who participate in them, (ii) the bodies usually react to, rather than prevent, the problems that arise, (iii) mature students are perceived as a source of ‘difficulties’ and ‘needs’, and (iv) student representation in governing bodies does not seem to fairly and equitably represent all students, and some specificities of mature students (among other underrepresented groups) seem to be made invisible.


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How to Cite

Amorim, J. P., & Viterbo, F. (2024). The representation of mature students in governing bodies of a Portuguese university: ‘We are all equal, but some are more equal than others’!?. European Journal for Research on the Education and Learning of Adults, 15(1), 81–96.