Mature student Beth Thomas

Going to university as a mature student

A degree can prepare for your next career move or launch you in an exciting new direction

What is a mature student? | How to apply | Applying for student finance | Student life

Getting a degree is something you can achieve at any stage of your life. Choose Portsmouth and you'll be part of a thriving mature student community – more than a quarter of our students are 'mature' when they start their course.

Returning to education can unlock exciting opportunities. Whether you're wanting to change career, boost your job prospects, or learn about a subject alongside like-minded students, going to uni can be one of the best decisions you can make for your future.

What is a mature student?

A mature student is anyone going to university who is over 21 years of age at their beginning of their undergraduate course, or 25 at the beginning of their postgraduate course.

If that's you, you might already be in work, or have other commitments to consider. At Portsmouth, many of our courses have part-time or flexible study options, so you can fit your studies in with your lifestyle.

Why I Chose to Study at the University of Portsmouth as a Mature Student

Find out why mature students choose to study at the University of Portsmouth. It's never to late to study what you love.

[It's never too late to study what you love]

[Meet Caroline]

Caroline: After having a family, I decided to return to education. The lecturers are so helpful, they want to help you and see you succeed. It's changed me as a person and enriched my life. 

[What will your Portsmouth be like?]

[University of Portsmouth]

[Find out more]

I’m a mature student, 58, and decided to challenge myself. I didn’t get the opportunity when I was younger. I am the first in my family to go to uni. It’s never too late. I chose Portsmouth because of family commitments but it was the best decision.

Mandy Bentley, BA (Hons) English Language and Linguistics

Applying to university as a mature student

When choosing what to study, we have various courses to fit your needs and to give you flexibility to achieve a degree in a way that fits your lifestyle and commitments.

You can study part-time for lots of our undergraduate and postgraduate courses, and we also offer online degrees and distance learning courses to give you greater flexibility.

You could also study a work-based degree so you can work full-time and tailor your course to your employer's objectives.

When you study part-time, online or at work, you'll always receive the same high-level of support we give to all students.

Vincent smiling

They didn’t just look at my grades, they looked at me, the person behind them. They saw I had big ideas and passion and they offered me a place studying business right away. That personal approach was so important – I knew I’d made the right choice.

Vincent Pericard, BA (Hons) Business and Enterprise Development

Meeting entry requirements

You'll find our entry requirements on every course page. But as a mature student, we understand you might have different academic qualifications as students who just left college. We accept various qualifications on our courses and can potentially take other factors into account such as your work experience.

Our decisions are never based purely on exam results – we consider every factor that we believe showcases your excellence and potential when we assess your application.

Students from the UK

If you need extra qualifications to meet entry requirements, you can take an A Level or BTEC qualification at any age as a mature student. Check with your local colleges to see if they take applications from mature students, or you might find your chosen A Level can be taught online.

If you already have A Levels, but you don't think your grades are good enough, you could take a course with a foundation year. A foundation year will give you the skills to get back into your studies, and often have more attainable entry requirements.

EU and international students

If you're planning to join us from another country, most undergraduate courses require between 24 and 31 points in the International Baccalaureate (IB), depending on the degree you apply for. Find out more about the qualifications we accept from your country.

If you don't meet the entry requirements for an undergraduate or postgraduate course, you can do a foundation or first-year degree programme or a pre-Master's programme at International College Portsmouth (ICP) for many of our courses.

Student loans for mature students

There's no upper age limit for applying for student loans from Student Finance and you may be eligible for additional scholarships.

Tuition fee loans

As a mature student, you can apply to Student Finance for a tuition fee loan for your undergraduate or postgraduate degree in the same way as any other student.

Your undergraduate tuition fee loan is paid directly to the University, while a postgraduate tuition fee loan is paid directly to you.

Maintenance loan

If you're over 25, your parents' income isn't considered when your maintenance loan allowance is allocated. However, if you're married, in a civil partnership or living with a partner then your partner's income will be taken into account.

If you're over 60 years old at the start of your undergraduate course, you can only get a smaller maintenance loan, which is based on your income.

Applying for Student Finance, scholarships and bursaries

Find out more about applying for a student loan or maintenance loan from student finance. We also offer various scholarships and bursaries that could help cut the cost of your studies and reduce your student loans.

Get more information

Support for students with dependents

If you have children or support a dependent adult who has no income of their own, you can apply for additional support. This could include the Parents Learning Allowance, the Adult Dependants' Grant, the Childcare Grant or Universal Credit.

Find out how to apply:

Funding a second degree

You usually can't get finance from Student Finance England if you've already studied for a degree, even if you didn't complete your degree. But you may still qualify if you're doing a healthcare course that leads to registration as an NHS professional or if you're topping up a Foundation degree, HNC or HND to an honours degree.

If you're planning to study a second undergraduate degree, you may still be eligible for the University of Portsmouth Bursary. Alternatively, you might be eligible to apply for one of our postgraduate courses using the funding outlined above.

Find out more about student finance eligibility.

Only to be used for CCI Promotion purposes

Because I was finally studying a course I appreciated, I relished the opportunity to take on extracurricular activities like becoming a course rep and working with the University in organising events. With the support from all my lecturers, I was able to balance these activities as well as a degree I felt truly passionate about.

Coline Lejeune, BA (Hons) Film Industries

University life for mature students

At Portsmouth, you'll find all the resources and support you need to get started on this new chapter in your life.

Study skills and academic support

When you join us, you'll be assigned a personal tutor. They're available for personal and academic support and can signpost you to learning and academic support services such as the Academic Skills Unit (ASK) and faculty learning support tutors.

You can also take advantage of our study skills resources before your course starts, so you can familiarise yourself with the practical elements of study.

Balancing your studies

Balancing studies with your lifestyle is an additional challenge for mature students – especially if you plan to study alongside work or have a family to care for.

We have plenty of resources to help you plan your time and embrace your new student lifestyle:

Accommodation options

When you receive an offer from us and accept us as your firm choice, you're entitled to a guaranteed room in our halls (deadlines apply).

Our shared halls are all in the centre of Portsmouth, and all bills are included along with free WiFi and broadband. If you're hoping for a quieter experience than student halls usually offer, you can request to be placed in a quiet zone when you apply for accommodation. We try to accommodate every request.

If you want the benefit of living in the centre of Portsmouth but would prefer a bit more privacy, we also have studio flats within our halls.

If you want more control over where you live and who you live with, see our guide to private renting in Portsmouth. When you rent privately, you can choose who you live with, bring your family or lodge.

See more accommodation options in our guide to where to live at uni.

B Roll Day 2


Further information

What are the different types of university degrees?

Unsure of the difference between a Bachelor's degree and HNC? Curious about what an MBA is, or what an LLB is for? Make sense of undergraduate and postgraduate degrees and awards with this simple guide.

University students in graduation caps and gowns
Read more

Reasons to get a degree

Discover the benefits of getting a degree and the opportunities you'll get at uni

Students laughing on Portsmouth campus, and a view of the historic dockyard.
Learn more