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Higher education and university

Most universities and colleges welcome mature students for their commitment, experience and skills.

What qualifications do I need to become a mature student?

When it comes to entry requirements, many universities and colleges have a flexible admissions policy that takes into account work and life experience.

As entry requirements vary so much, it's a good idea to get in touch with the admissions tutors for the courses in which you are interested. It could be worth meeting them to discuss your situation and your options before making an application. You may need to take an access course first.

To ease the transition back into education and help you settle in, universities and colleges often have orientation programmes tailored for mature students.

The UCAS guide for mature students is a thorough guide for those considering higher education

What is an access course?

Access to higher education courses teach the knowledge and skills that you will need to begin a degree or diploma course. They are run by local colleges, usually as evening classes.

There are over 1,500 access courses listed on the Access to HE website.

How do I find a college or university course?

The Complete University Guide provides a wealth of information on universities and courses.

UCAS process all UK university undergraduate applications. Visit their website to use the UCAS course search.

The Open University have been proudly proclaiming their lack of an upper age limit and lack of formal entry requirements for longer than anyone else. They offer a range of distance learning courses.

Can I get funding for higher education?

Studying can sometimes be expensive, but there may be concessions for older people - so make sure you ask. Many institutions also allow distance learning so you can study from home and save costs.

GOV.UK's student finance calculator provides information on the financial help available to students in higher education in England.

You can apply for an Advanced Learner Loan to help fund a course at a college or training provider in England. There are similar loan schemes available for those living in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. You start to pay this loan back when you finish your course and you’re earning over £21,000.

Check if you’re eligible to apply for an Advanced Learner Loan

What should I do next?

Read The Complete University Guide

Visit the UCAS website to use the UCAS course search

Consider if you need to take an access course

Alternatively, you could get in touch with the admissions tutors for the courses in which you are interested.

A small favour

All the information and advice we provide on the website is free and completely independent, as is our Advice Line that is open 365 days a year.

But demand is going up. We are an ageing population and more people than ever are coming to us for support, which is why we need to ask for help.

If you are able to, just a small gift today could help us reach even more older people wherever the need is greatest.

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Age NI Advice Service

Every year our Advice Service deals with thousands of calls from older people in need. Call us today to make sure that you are receiving all the help and support available to you.

Call freephone 0808 808 7575
Monday - Friday 9am – 5pm 


Last updated: Jan 16 2024

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