The Mature Student’s Guide to University

We asked our mature students why they decided to go to university. Their expert advice is below, read on!

I was worried I’m too old to study for a degree…

On the contrary, there is no age limit and in some ways it can be advantageous when bringing life experience to your studies. Never underestimate what your experience can bring!

Age is just a number

What constitutes a mature student, anyway?

A mature student is anyone who is 21 years and older! Mature doesn’t equal old, and even if it did, who cares!?

One of Many but totally Individual

It may seem surprising but 25% of university students in the UK are mature students and we have a variety of ages in each of our courses. Everyone has their own story as to why they chose to study later on, from a sudden change of career, to discovering an old passion or even for fun!

You won’t be alone as a mature student

What should I study?

This can be a hard question to ask yourself unless you’ve always had a passion for your subject. Check out our guide to choosing the right course for you if you want to find something that really suits you. A popular route is to opt to study for an undergraduate degree in your chosen subject, or a foundation degree to give another route to those people who fall slightly short of the criteria. A Master’s is also great for those returning to Higher Education. Remember, it’s never too late!

I’ve never studied after school, what can I do now to get onto my course?

To gain access onto the vast majority of our courses you will need to hold level 3 qualifications e.g. A-levels, BTECs or an Access to higher education course. Any of these can be taken at a local college or even distance learning so if you never went into higher education after school it may be worth having a look into this.

In some circumstances even relevant work experience can be sufficient for some foundation courses. It is best to check the entry requirements for each of our courses on our website.

Watch your confidence grow

I’ve not studied in a long time and am not confident in my ability.

There are plenty of options available for you to be able to get support with building your confidence. A popular choice is to study an access to higher education course as you will improve your academic writing ability and get help with writing your personal statement when making your application.

They are one or two year programmes which can be taken in a variety of subjects and are designed specifically for adults seeking progress to higher education. Visit the Access to HE website (

I work full time at the moment/have childcare responsibilities will I have enough time?

We offer a large amount of our courses on a part time basis with many having the flexibility to fit around your schedule and the opportunity to complete modules sooner. Our part time courses can take 4–6 years to complete and often you will need at least one full day a week to be able to study part time. Full time undergraduate courses last 3 years and a masters can be completed in 1 year full time or 2 years part time.

Courses are flexible so you can fit study time in around other commitments

Will I be eligible for financial support?

If this is your first degree you can apply for funding through student finance and your income can be assessed. Check out our student finance blog for a comprehensive guide made simple to check your for eligibility for funding.

Will I feel out of place?

We not only welcome mature students but embrace you with our thriving Mature Students Association which is very popular. Not only this but as a student here you are automatically a member of the students union and can take advantage of all of our free sports societies and interest societies for your chance to make friends for life here.

Join the Mature Students Association

Still unsure? We asked a mature student on their experience and here is what they said:

“I applied after starting an access to HE course. I am studying evenings whilst juggling family and work. I feel that this was a good route for me as I had been out of education a long time. The course has helped with time management and also essay writing/referencing but most importantly for me was the assistance with the Personal Statement. The personal statement is that one opportunity to sell yourself to the universities.”

Make sure to follow us @UniNorthants or #UoN for more advice and blogs.