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Becoming a Mature Student

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What You Need to Know

  1. Becoming a mature student can be a great way to initiate a career change.
  2. Study can be conducted around your other commitments on a part time basis. You can even carry out your studies remotely over the internet.
  3. Whilst courses in standard academic subjects are available, you can also enrol in vocational courses tailored specifically to increase your employability in your chosen field.
  4. Some courses may require you to have a prior qualifications, however, if you don’t have them, often they can be waived due to your working/life experience.
  5. You may be eligible to receive funding from your Local Education Authority to help pay any fees that come with your course if you are in financial difficulty.

There are many reasons why you might choose to become a mature student. It might be a path to changing your career or to improve your promotion prospects, or you might just want to study a subject you love.

In your teens, you might not have the self-motivation and drive to succeed with study or the ability to recognise the importance of long-term goals. Nor might you have been able to take advantage of the range of options now available, such as studying from home, in colleges or community centres, or even taking summer courses overseas. Your study can be full-time, part-time, occasional or online.


Courses for mature students

There are different levels of education. Vocational qualifications are applied to a specific career or industry sector and range from GCSEs to NVQs and Higher National Certificates and Diplomas. University degrees may be much less focused on employment skills.

There are also courses at art and agricultural colleges and more than 170 further education colleges.

Prior qualifications

To enrol on some university courses, as opposed to a further education college, you will need to satisfy the institution’s entry requirements; in some cases this might mean that you might need some existing qualifications, but even at university-level, many courses have no qualification requirements at all.

And while some institutions have basic entry standards, in many cases these can be waived if you're a mature student equipped with life experience and work skills.

If you had your heart set on a particular university but didn’t have the basic qualifications, check to see if this can be waived because of your background before giving up.

Lifestyle changes

Study as a mature student often brings lifestyle complications. You may not be confident that you will “fit in” or have the necessary skills to study; you might have to juggle childcare arrangements, and fit your arrangements round deadlines for essays and other written work – and of course there could be financial concerns.

While some courses are free, most colleges will expect you to contribute towards your fees if you're financially capable of doing so, and university undergraduate fees start at £3,000 a year, with MA courses costing far more.

Your own Local Education Authority will make an assessment of your income and your household income to decide if you are eligible for financial help.

A good place to find out about further education courses in your area is Learn Direct website.

Most of its courses are available to internet users and it runs a network of more than 2,000 online learning centres in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, offering courses of all types, including full time, part time, evening classes, weekend studies, and day release.

The Open University also offers a wide range of online courses, including undergraduate and post-graduate degrees.

Further Reading

  • Find out more information about university courses here.
  • look for a new job today and bring your newly learnt skills to bear.
  • Qualifications make a good CV great. Find out how best to work them into your resume using our guide to writing a CV.

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