Mature students: What you need to know

The prospect of entering university as a mature student can be daunting…

But, your age makes no difference when it comes to developing your skills and learning about a subject you’re passionate about. And whether you’re looking to progress within your career, change jobs, or simply expand your knowledge – university could be exactly what you need to give you that extra boost.

To help you get to grips with the facts, here’s a quick run-down of everything you need to know if you’re thinking about becoming a mature student:


What is a mature student?

Anyone starting a university course over the age of 21, who didn’t go straight to university after school or college, is classed as a mature student.

Mature students could range from those who have taken a gap year to travel and/or volunteer, to people who have been out of education for a while to concentrate on other responsibilities (such as raising a family), and those who may have worked to save money to pay for their own education.


Am I eligible to study as a mature student?

Entry requirements will vary from course to course. However, your work experience, education, and professional qualifications will all be taken into account as a mature student.

Some courses may even accept candidates based on their work history alone, although most universities will require relevant A-levels, NVQs, BTECs or their equivalents to get started.

Other points of entry could include students who have studied access to higher education courses (such as HNDs) or gained online learning credits, and taking these prior to your uni course is a good way to boost your eligibility.


What are the benefits of studying?

Returning to education as a mature student has many benefits that might appeal to you.

Not only does it give you the opportunity to progress in your current career, it could also allow you to learn something new and change your occupation completely.

Additionally, as many professions require a degree to get started and/or move up within the industry, making the choice to go to university could greatly improve your career prospects, not to mention, help you to stand out from the crowd.


What kind of courses can I do?

There are a range of courses on offer for mature students, which will suit all expertise, experience levels, and lifestyles.

And although there’ll often be the option for mature students to study part-time, full-time, and/or remotely, this will depend on the university and individual course – so always do your research before making a final decision.

Here are a few of the types of courses you could study:

Undergraduate courses – An undergraduate degree is the next step following on from A-levels (or equivalent).

The most common type of undergraduate course is a bachelor degree (usually lasting three years), although you can alternatively choose to study for a foundation degree, diploma of higher education, national vocational qualification, or a higher national diploma.

Postgraduate courses – A postgraduate degree is studied after the completion of an undergraduate degree. If you’ve already been to university, and you’re going back as a mature student – a postgrad qualification could be for you.

Types of postgraduate degrees include:

  • Taught courses (Masters or postgraduate diplomas)
  • Research degrees (Doctorates)
  • Conversion courses (enables students to transfer to a different subject area)
  • Professional qualifications (industry specific, and often used to progress within a career)


Can I get funded?

A range of finance options are available for prospective students, no matter what your age. Most mean that no money is needed to be paid up front, and you’ll only have to make repayments when you’re earning enough to afford it.

However, if this isn’t your first time at university, the amount of funding you’re eligible for may reduce dependent on how long you studied in the past.

Here’s a quick run-down of a few of the loans and grants on offer:

Maintenance loans and grants – designed to help students pay for general living costs. The amount you receive will depend on the location of your course (with more expensive areas accruing higher living costs, therefore bigger loans). You could also be entitled to a non-repayable maintenance grant, which is calculated based on your household income.

Tuition fee loans – cover the full cost of tuition fees, and are paid directly to the university once approved.

Grants for extra support – are available for parents or students with disabilities, or for those relying on dependents.

There are also a variety of other ways to get funded, which include scholarship opportunities and bursaries.

Apply for student finance

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How do I apply?

How you apply will depend on the type of course you want to take.

Full-time students will be need to apply via UCAS, but if you’re looking to study part-time – applying directly through a university is the best option. Deadlines will vary dependent on your course, university, and location.

But if you do miss the cut-off date, this doesn’t mean you’ll lose the opportunity to go to university.

Using the UCAS clearing service will allow you to apply for any remaining spaces at a number of universities – so you’ll still have the chance to study and get involved.


Not sure what to study? Browse all available university courses now