The term ‘mature student’ is usually used when referring to anyone going to university or college after a period of time out of full-time education.
Typically, this will mean students who are over 21 years of age at the beginning of their undergraduate studies, or over 25 years of age at the beginning of their postgraduate studies. Over half of mature students are aged between 21 and 24, and around 40% are over 30. Mature students often balance their studies alongside work or caring responsibilities.
Some mature students may have few or no previous qualifications, and may be taking Access to HE diploma courses, or enrolling on their first degree course based on their work or life experiences. Others may be returning to do a postgraduate qualification or a degree in a new subject area as part of their career progression.
There are many ways you can experience higher education. Around a third of undergraduates are mature students – of all ages and backgrounds.
- Explore a subject you find interesting or rewarding.
- Progress your career by increasing your skills and knowledge.
- Change direction to take on a new challenge.
For full-time courses, you do all your research and apply for courses online through the UCAS website.
For flexible and part-time courses, you would apply directly to the universities and colleges.
- Get started on what to study, when to apply, and how to get a place. Open days give you the chance to ask questions and see what's available – find out when open days are taking place. If you can't visit in person, you might be able to attend a virtual open day.
- Find a course by reading our advice on choosing a suitable course and provider.
- Then start applying – if you're applying to a university, submit your application before 15 January (18:00 UK time), or 15 October (18:00 UK time) the year before for Oxford, Cambridge or most medicine, veterinary medicine/science, and dentistry courses.
- Look into finance and support for advice on course fees, funding, and adjusting to returning to education.
- If you need student accommodation, there are different choices available – our guide will help you research your options and find what's right for you.
- Preparing for study as a mature student – student support
- Preparing for study as a mature student – choosing where to study
- Preparing for study as a mature student – your qualifications
- Student finance for mature students
- Coping with financial difficulty as a mature student
- References for mature students
- Writing a reference for a mature student
- The application process for mature students
- Getting ready to start your course
Ask me about my returning to study as a mature student, how I found the time to study around my family responsibilities, and anything else uni related you can think of!