How easy is it to study as a mature student?
PUBLISHED: 11:51 05 April 2019 | UPDATED: 13:37 17 April 2019
Are you thinking about progressing your career or starting a new one? Here’s some advice from the University of Suffolk.
The world is fast-moving. Especially in the workplace. With technology advancing at a pace, some jobs no longer exist, while new ones are being created all the time.
It's easy to feel overwhelmed by the jobs market. Do you feel like your skillset isn't relevant anymore? Maybe you think you could benefit from additional training to help your career progression? Or perhaps you're considering a career change?
In any of these cases, have you considered becoming a mature student? There are plenty of adult courses in higher education to enrol on in Suffolk, with career advice from experts to help you make a choice that will suit your career change or progression plans.
Being a mature student in higher education could open many doors – especially for those who've been made redundant and don't know where to go next.
A mature student is classed as anyone over the age of 21 but don't think you'll be the dinosaur in the room! For example, the University of Suffolk, based in Ipswich, reports that around 60% of its students are mature. They come from a range of backgrounds – some returning to learning after a break, some after a career change, and others looking to progress.
A wide range of degrees and courses are available for mature students – from midwifery, to nursing, bioscience, wildlife conservation, fine art, computer games design, politics and law.
'That sounds great' you might think 'but how do I fit it in around work and family?'
Karen Hinton, head of student recruitment and market development at University of Suffolk says around one in three higher education students in the UK is studying part-time, and reveals the university has many part-time degrees to choose from, offering a more flexible approach to learning. “This allows students with outside commitments to complete their studies over a longer period of time, typically three to nine years for an undergraduate degree and typically one to two-and-a-half years for a postgraduate qualification.
“Part-time courses are just one option. Many students are able to work alongside their full-time course. Most students taking undergraduate degree programmes can expect to be in university two or three days a week. Our Job Shop advertises a number of part-time vacancies suitable for students.”
If you haven't studied for a while you might want to consider a course to build up your knowledge and confidence first. The Access to Higher Education Diploma is available in most further education colleges and is a fantastic place to start.
How do mature students apply?
Applications can be made throughout the year, although some competitive courses may be unable to consider these after January 15 on the year of entry. Karen Hinton adds: “We would usually encourage students to apply at least six weeks before their course starts. Students who will be 21 or over when they start their course will be regarded as a mature student. We offer a flexible admissions policy for mature students which takes into account life and work experience.
“Where there are specific course requirements, students will be asked to demonstrate an equivalent knowledge of the subject, and if they have not had any formal education for several years, they may need to undertake some sort of preparatory course, for example an Access to HE Diploma course.”
What are the fees? Is there any financial help for mature students?
Fees are not dependant on age. University of Suffolk, for example, charges £9,250 per year for a full-time Bachelor degree or £8,220 per year for a full-time Foundation degree. Most of the degrees are available to study part-time with fees payable on a per-module basis. Those studying for an undergraduate degree don't have to pay up front. If you meet the eligibility criteria you can apply for a tuition fee loan which you repay after you finish your course. There is no age limit on this loan.
Mature students can apply for a maintenance loan to aid with costs of living while studying. You can find more information here.
Can mature students stay in halls?
Yes they can. The University of Suffolk, for example, has Athena Hall which offers a range of double bedded, en-suite rooms, as well as studio apartments which might suit mature students with partners. The university's Infozone can direct students to landlords and other student accommodation providers in the area?
Can being a mature student help you get a job?
Karen adds: “Many of our students decide to study a degree after working in their career industry for a number of years. We take life and work experience into account when you apply for your chosen course. We know having a degree can dramatically increase your employability and career progression. At the University of Suffolk, we have an excellent employability record - last year 95% of our graduates were employed or in further study six months after graduating. Our dedicated careers team can support you in advancing your existing career or using your new degree to best effect. careers support is available up to three years after graduating.
If you want to find out more about being a mature student, University of Suffolk has an open event on Saturday, April 27 from 9am, where you can discuss all the options available to you.