University Tips Blog
Image of a mature student exploring university opportunities
A headshot image of the author, Jon Cheek

by Jon Cheek


posted on 15 Jan '23

This blog was kindly provided by Dr Jonathan Dunn for the UniTasterDays Parents' Guide to University

A guide to applying for university courses as a mature student

Firstly – a definition of a mature student

Perhaps reading this guide has sparked thoughts of becoming a student yourself! However, even if you have no plans to join your children in student life any time soon, information on applying to university as a mature student may be more relevant than you think.

You may even be a parent to a mature student without realising it! Did you know that the UK government defines ‘mature students’ as those aged 21 or over at the time of starting their course? With over a quarter of a million mature students beginning undergraduate degrees in 2019 (37% of all undergraduate entrants), there’s a good chance you have a mature student on your hands!

Advantages and disadvantages of studying as a mature student

Being a mature learner often gives students added focus and determination to succeed, not to mention advantages such as additional life and work experience, meaning university really can be an amazing experience for people of all ages! However, studying at university as a mature learner can also come with other responsibilities, so a good support network can make a real difference. This is true even at the earliest stage - when considering making an application.

Image of a parent mapping about different career paths

Challenges and relevant support

Making an application to university usually involves weighing up a whole series of important considerations, so you might begin by offering to help your young person to think through how their personal circumstances could present certain challenges. You might also be able to help them research the different types of support they will need to meet those challenges and make the most of the many exciting opportunities ahead.

In their search for a university, you might help them consider the support on offer in areas such as:

  • University entry including alternatives to traditional qualifications
  • Finance
  • Wellbeing
  • Counselling
  • Study skills (e.g., English, Maths, IT, research skills)
  • Childcare
  • Carer support
  • Computing

Whichever university the budding mature student in your life is considering, you’re certain to find a range of staff and student-led support services available there.

Support services will all usually have a presence on campus at university open days, and it is usually possible to speak with someone about the specifics of what they offer and how these fit with particular circumstances. There are also likely to be general information sessions for mature students where you can also ask questions. So, why not raise the idea of visiting an open day or two, and visit these together if you can?

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