Studying as a mature student

Ofgad > Blogs > Studying as a mature student
University college student standing

Every year, thousands of mature students go to universities and colleges to study different types of courses. It’s a great chance to develop new skills and career options – at any age.

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.

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. Returning to education as a mature student has many benefits that might appeal to you. Not only does it give you the opportunity to progress in your current career, it could also allow you to learn something new and change your occupation completely. Additionally, many professions are normally required a degree to get started and/or move up within the industry.

Are you eligible to study as a mature student?

Entry requirements will vary from course to course. However, your work experience, education, and professional qualifications will all be taken into account as a mature student.

Some courses may even accept candidates based on their work history alone, although most universities and colleges will require relevant A-levels, NVQs, BTECs or their equivalents to get started depending on the course you want to study. You can do Access courses if you don’t have A-level qualifications required for undergraduate admissions. The Access to Higher Education Diploma prepares you for university-level study. It is designed for mature students who have the ability to study at degree level but lack the necessary formal qualifications or have been out of education for some years.

Other points of entry could include students who have studied access to higher education courses (such as HNCs and HNDs) or gained online learning credits.

What kind of courses you can do?

There are a range of higher education courses on offer for mature students, which will suit all expertise, experience levels, and lifestyles. Here are a few of the types of courses you can study –

Undergraduate courses – An undergraduate degree is the next step following on from A-levels (or equivalent). The most common type of undergraduate course is a bachelor degree (usually lasting three years), although you can alternatively choose to study for Bachelor’s Top Up Degrees, Foundation Degrees (Two Years Bachelors), Foundation Years (First Year Bachelors), Graduate Diploma, HND and HNC courses as well as Level 6, 5 and 4 courses.

Postgraduate courses – A postgraduate degree is studied after the completion of an undergraduate degree. If you’ve already been to university, and you’re going back as a mature student – a postgraduate qualification could be for you. Types of postgraduate degrees include Taught Masters Degrees, Research Masters Degrees, Master’s Top Up Degrees, Postgraduate Diploma, Postgraduate Certificate, Conversion courses and Level 7 Vocational Courses.

Doctoral courses –  A doctorate or doctor’s degree or doctoral degree, is the highest level academic degree awarded by universities. You can study Doctorate of Philosophy (PhD, DPhil), Professional Doctorate (DBA, EdD, DPharm etc.), PhD by Publication (PhD), and Level 8 Courses (Diplomas and Certificates).

Can you get funded?

A range of finance options are available for prospective students, no matter what your age. Here’s some information about few loans and grants on offer.

Maintenance loans and grants designed to help students pay for general living costs. The amount you receive will depend on the location of your course (with more expensive areas accruing higher living costs, therefore bigger loans). You could also be entitled to a non-repayable maintenance grant, which is calculated based on your household income. Tuition fee loans cover the full cost of tuition fees, and are paid directly to the university once approved. Grants for extra support are available for parents or students with disabilities, or for those relying on dependents.

There are also a variety of other ways to get funded, which include scholarship opportunities and bursaries. For more information on fees and finance, Look into finance and support.

How to get into higher education

In order to study, you need choose your course before applying for admissions to the university or college.

You can search and find your desired course using Ofgad’s Course Search. You can also search and find study location (university or college) where you want to study your desired higher education course.

If you would like Ofgad to help you in deciding which subject, course, type, place and mode of study to choose from and guarantee you an offer from a UK university, college or language school, then send us your interest or apply via course page.

After you send your interest for admissions, we’ll consult with you to decide right subjects, courses, university, college or language school to get admissions. We will put together your admission application and submit to the relevant university, college or language school to provide you with Offer Letter. Meanwhile, we will also provide you with access to Online Portal where you’ll be able to check status of your admission.

Your offer letter can be conditional that will show the conditions you have to meet to get your place confirmed. Conditions may include providing your final certificates or achieving specific academic or English grades or pay fees. Once you meet the conditions, your condition letter will change to unconditional offer letter with confirmed pace for you to study at your chosen academic institution. Now you need to accept an offer to secure your spot. Accepting your place is easy! You’ll just need to sign a form and pay any fees that are due.

For detailed information read our guide How to apply to study at UK university, college or language school.

We are using cookies to give you the best experience. You can find out more about which cookies we are using or switch them off in privacy settings.
AcceptPrivacy Settings


  • Your privacy

Your privacy

We use cookies to improve your experience on our site and to show you relevant advertising.

To find out more, read our updated privacy policy and cookie policy.