Advice for mature students
Help and advice
Getting a degree is something you can achieve at any stage of your life. And when you choose us, you'll be part of a thriving mature student community – more than a quarter of our students are 'mature' (i.e. over 21 when they start their course).
There are many reasons to go to university as a mature student – you might want a career change, to improve your career prospects or develop your knowledge and skills with like-minded students.
If this is what you want and you're ready to take the next step, find out how below.
Choosing your course
When choosing what to study, you might have other commitments to consider such as a full-time job or a family. At Portsmouth, we have various courses to fit your needs and to give you flexibility to achieve a degree in a way that fits your lifestyle.
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.
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.
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.
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.
International and EU 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.
Access to Higher Education (HE) diploma
The Access to HE diploma helps you prepare for university if you're over 19 and you don't have any formal qualifications, or only a few from school. The diploma gives you a Level 3 qualification, which is the same as A Levels. Most Access courses take just a year to complete full-time, or 2 years part-time.
We list Access course requirements on each course page (when you select to 'see full entry requirements and other qualifications we accept'). The Access to HE course search can also help you find the Access course you need to get started on your university journey.
You can also apply for an Advanced Learning Loan. If you're earning less than £25,725 while you study your Access course, you won't have to pay the loan back, and it will also be wiped if you go on to complete a degree.
Professional work experience
You'll need some formal qualifications to apply for a degree course. But if you don't have the exact qualification requirements, you can potentially use your professional work experience to illustrate your knowledge of a subject and your fit for the course.
When applying as a mature student, you can highlight your relevant work experience in your personal statement and reference professional qualifications and training in your application.
See our guidance on writing your personal statement for:
You might also have the opportunity to convert relevant university-level knowledge, skills and experience into credits you can put towards a qualification. Find out more about recognition of prior learning (RPL).
Student loans and scholarships
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.
You can apply for a maintenance loan to help cover your living costs while you study an undergraduate degree.
If you're over 25, you'll be classed as an independent student. This means 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
- Undergraduate student loans guide
- Undergraduate scholarships and bursaries
- Postgraduate loans, scholarships and bursaries
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:
- Support for undergraduate students with dependents
- Support for postgraduate students with dependents
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.
Returning to study
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:
- Balancing part-time work and study
- Balancing part-time study with full-time work
- Coming to uni with a family
- Health and wellbeing advice for students
If you're studying for 6 hours or more per week, you can apply for a place at our on-campus nursery. Our nursery provides full daycare for children aged 6 months to 5 years, but places can go quickly so apply early if you're planning to study here.
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.
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.