Applying to university as a mature student

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Mature students are fast becoming a common sight in lecture halls with nearly a third of all full time undergraduates being classed as mature students. A mature student means anyone who is over 21 when they start their studies, although there is no upper age limit.

There are many different reasons that mature students decide to return to education. Some want to learn new skills, develop their career with qualifications, or change career altogether. Some mature students complete a degree simply because they have a personal interest in the subject and love learning.

Whatever your reason for applying to university later in life, higher education institutions will welcome you with open arms and encourage the fresh insights and different opinions that your background will bring.

Here is our guide to applying to university as a mature student:

Entry requirements

Most mature students will have traditional qualifications such as a GCSE and A Levels, although if you haven’t got them, don’t let it put you off. Universities will often consider alternative qualifications, learning credits, or work experience as part of your application.

You may find that you have to complete a foundation qualification or take a college access course before being accepted on to your chosen course. It’s worth phoning the university to discuss your individual circumstances as they are the best people to tell you how to apply.

Full or part time study?

The majority of mature students study part time as they have other commitments, such as work or children, outside of their education. Universities appreciate that you have other responsibilities and offer flexible learning options and specialist support for mature students.

Will I get funding?

Most students are eligible for tuition fee loan for their first degree, so don’t let cost put you off applying for university. You may also be eligible for a maintenance loan or grant, funding designed to help with living costs, depending on your household income.

Contact Student Finance England and your chosen university to find out more about the funding options they offer for mature students.