Every year, thousands of mature students go to university or college. It's a great chance to develop new skills and career options – at any age.
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Who are mature students?

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.


Studying as a mature student

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.

How to get into higher education

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.

Don't worry about whether you are qualified to study at university – your original education or work experience may be enough, and if not, there are Access courses you can complete to gain entry. You also have the option of studying from home with organisations such as NEC (National Extension College)

  1. 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.
  2. Find a course by reading our advice on choosing a suitable course and university.
  3. Then start applying  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.
  4. Look into finance and support for advice on course fees, funding, and adjusting to university life.

Tips and advice for mature applicants

Take a look at our tips for mature students below:

You could also speak directly to current undergraduate students about their experiences, using the link below: 

Speak to current students using Unibuddy

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