Mature students

Education is for life

Higher education is for everyone  regardless of age or background.

  • Every year thousands of adults take the opportunity to develop themselves, and their careers, through higher education.
  • Most study part-time, but mature students also make up around a third of all full-time undergraduates.


A guide for mature students

Click the image above to view, download or print our guide for mature students applying to higher education.

Different subjects to choose from

There are so many subjects you can study – here are just some of them.

Who are mature students?

There is no typical mature student. Defined as any student aged 21 or over at the start of their studies, around two fifths are aged between 21 and 24, a fifth between 25 and 29, and a further two fifths are over 30 when they commence their courses.

They study for many different reasons – for example:

  • for career or personal development
  • to pursue an interest
  • to find a new direction

Mature students play a huge part in the life of the UK's higher education sector.

What are the benefits?

Higher education offers mature students some excellent opportunities.

Benefits include:

  • new skills
  • improved job prospects
  • career change 
  • professional progression
  • new life experience

The most fantastic experience of my life... It’s like I’m seeing a whole other world that was hidden to me."

Amanda Scales, Sussex University

What qualifications do I need?

The UCAS course search tool provides information about the entry requirements for admission to individual courses.

Although a lot of mature students will have traditional qualifications, some universities and colleges will consider a range of other qualifications and learning credits as well as work experience and informal learning.

  • Even if you don’t have the qualifications listed in the entry requirements it's worth talking to the university or college to discuss your suitability and options.
  • If you've been out of formal education for some time, you could consider a college access programme, which is designed to give mature students the right preparation for higher education.
  • See Applying to a university or college for more information.

How will I fit in?

Mature students are welcomed at universities and colleges up and down the country.

Wherever they study, mature students make a positive difference to the intellectual and cultural lives of their course providers, bringing fresh insight, questioning minds, experience of life and work, and a commitment to study.

  • While higher education can be demanding, particularly for those with different commitments, mature students often find that course providers value their enthusiasm, skills and experience.
  • For that reason, providers often offer flexibility in terms of admissions criteria and the types of learning programme they offer.
  • Support is also available from specialist staff and mature students' unions and other informal networks. 

Life itself became more satisfying, more curious and, at the same time, less complicated."

Alan Markland, Bolton University

More information

Choosing your course
What and where to study – the practical considerations and resources available.

How will you fund your studies?
Find out if you're eligible for a loan, and what other forms of support are available.

Applying to a university or college
What to consider when applying, as well as admissions criteria and support.

Staying the course
Preparation for study and coping with the demands of university life.