University isn’t just for school leavers – whether you’re considering a career change or want to learn a new skill, becoming a mature student offers a wealth of potential rewards. Going to university after working for several years brings its own set of challenges, so here is our guide to going back to studying.
Choosing what to study and where
If you’re considering the move to your university city, then check with your university beforehand. They can recommend halls that are better suited to people doing their masters, doctorate or those returning as a mature student. Our budget calculator can help you plan the costs of living your new life at university.
If you’re less mobile because you want to continue working, you’re on the properly ladder, or you’ve started a family, then it might make more sense for you to stay at home. Distance learning can bridge the gap between you and the course you want to do. One option is The Open University, but lots of universities now offer the opportunity to learn using podcasts, videos and online documents. If you don’t want to part with your job, you could think about studying part-time so you’ll still have access to a salary.
The funding you can apply for
Getting a degree isn’t cheap – even if you’ve been working for a while. See if you qualify for some support from your university of choice. And, while there’s no special government funding for mature students, there is funding available.
Mature student grants are no longer available, and if you’ve already had a student loan for university in the past, your funding options are limited. But, if you’re under 60 and you’re thinking about your first undergraduate degree, you can apply for the same funding as any other undergraduate. If you’re over 60, you can see if you qualify for a special support grant, rather than a regular maintenance loan.
You now come with extras: your plan should too
A job, children, a mortgage. Having extra responsibilities means you’re going to need to make extra sure you’re prepared for the start of your course.
If you’re under 25 and your parents support you, their income will be included as part of your household income. If you’re over 25, your household income will be counted. There are also funds available for students who have children, disabilities, or come from a low income household. Visit the government website for a full breakdown.
After you’ve worked out the level of funding you qualify for, think about how you’re going to pay for your mortgage, childcare fees and other outgoings while at university. Whether you qualify for financial help or not, use our budget calculator to create a budget.
You still get help applying and studying
Getting your finances in order isn’t the only thing you need to think about. The UCAS website is a fantastic resource for anyone entering higher education. First, check with your university about the entry requirements you need to meet to enrol on your chosen course. You can apply through UCAS for undergraduate, and UKPASS for postgraduate courses.
If you haven’t studied or written an essay in years, you’re going to want to put your mind at ease. Brushing up on your study skills will give you confidence in your ability to write essays, revise, take exams and present to your peers. Support is available. Some universities hold seminars for mature students, or run helpful classes on things like how to use the university’s library or online services.
You’ll have a personal tutor you can turn to for help too. Ask at your university about how to join any mature student societies and social media groups. Many mature students will be in the same boat as you, meaning great opportunities to meet like-minded people.