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What Is A Mature Student? A Definition

What is a mature student? A Definition

Being a mature student may sound grown up, but it's a popular option for people looking to boost their career progression and study something that interests them. 

Find out what it’s like to be a mature student, how it can make a difference with your university application, where you might want to live and what types of funding you can access, in this guide. 

What qualifies you to be a mature student?

Generally, you are considered a mature student if you begin your undergraduate degree after the age of 21. To do so is not uncommon, and many people choose to enter further education after taking a break from their A-levels or later on in life once they have worked out what they want to do careerwise. 

But what about mature postgraduate students? 

As a postgraduate mature student, you will almost certainly be over the age of 21. In the UK, the majority of full-time postgraduate students are aged between 21 and 25 years old, but when you consider part-time study, the majority are aged 26 and over with a quarter being over 36 years old.

Mature postgraduate students are informally counted as those aged 26 and over, although because postgraduate students are only slightly older than the huge undergraduate population, very few institutions formally recognise mature postgraduate students.

The University of Leicester for example does not distinguish postgraduate students as mature or not.  


Why become a mature student? 

What is a mature student?There are several reasons why you may decide to become a mature student.
The first and most likely, is that following a break from formal education, you may have developed a clearer understanding of your interests and what you want to study. Studying as either an undergraduate or a postgraduate mature student can be quite costly, so it’s important to have a clear understanding of what interests you before committing yourself financially. 
Embarking on postgraduate study later in life is also often done to improve career prospects or progress your current job role. This lets you access professional opportunities via professional postgraduate qualifications.

Another reason to become a mature student could be to change career direction completely and up-skill in a whole new field. Undertaking a postgraduate program could provide you with a whole new skill set, opening you up to completely different career opportunities.
As you mature, you may find you have the time and resources to explore a subject you are passionate about or become an expert in your field, and this could drive your desire to return to university.

How will being a mature student affect my application?

Mature postgraduate students have one major advantage over those fresh from their undergraduate degrees and that is work experience, which can seriously boost their postgraduate CV. Relevant work experience is highly valued in applications to postgraduate courses, especially those with a focus on a particular career path. Some postgraduate courses will accept students who do not have the necessary the best results in their undergraduate degree or even no degree at all as substantial work experience of five years or more can sometimes be considered. 

Mature postgraduate accommodation

Most UK universities will have mature and postgraduate-only accommodation available, as the majority of mature students don't necessarily want to be surrounded by undergraduate students. This accommodation tends to be in quieter locations away from the noisier parts of a university campus, like the Students’ Union, and offers mature students the chance to meet other similar students. Private halls of residence also often offer mature and postgraduate students a separate area to live in and it can be a great way to meet mature students from around the city you are studying in. Of course, mature students often have slightly different requirements to other students as they might be travelling with their families or are used to their own homes so are looking for small studio apartments rather than sharing a house with other students. 

Funding for mature students

A huge advantage that a mature student might have after several years of working is a small amount of savings to help them self-fund their studies. In the UK, if you have been financially independent of your parents for three years or are over 25, then from a funding point of view, you are considered a mature student by the government. Therefore, your parent's income is not taken into consideration when you are applying for funding. If you are aged over 60 years old, then you only qualify for tuition fees loans in the UK and not loans covering living costs. 

Life outside of studying

This is where life for a mature postgraduate student can get a little tough as often mature students have responsibilities such as caring for children or for ageing parents. However on the flip side there is an advantage to having a large support network of family, friends and colleagues already in place that younger students might not have. This means that mature students might find it easier to unwind and relax outside of their studies. Mature students have another advantage as they often have a more structured way of life compared to younger students and if you can find a time to regularly study, then you'll find it easier to complete your course.

*Sources for mature student age facts & figures: Government & HEFCE.


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