Returning to education 101: A guide for mature students

Mature students at SOAS

Undergraduate education does not always stop in your early twenties, and UCAS sees thousands of applications come in every year from so-called ‘mature students’. A ‘mature student’ applies anyone aged 21 or above – no matter if you’re 22 or 62. According to UCAS data, the June 30th deadline for applications in 2020 saw a total of 133,760 applications made by mature students – approximately one fifth of the total number of applicants.

These applications are considered a little differently to those made by applicants aged 18-20, and here, we hope to make these differences clear.

Clearing is open to you right NOW!

It’s a common misconception that UCAS Clearing takes place in August just after A-Level results day. In fact, Clearing, which allows applicants to find available university places, is open from July. This means that if you already have your completed qualifications, you can enquire about UCAS Clearing now, and avoid the mad rush around results day.

You can apply to SOAS through UCAS Clearing – or simply enquire – here.

Work experience holds a bit more weight

Mature students may have completed their studies years ago, so old exam results may not be an accurate depiction of a student’s current ability to study. Who’d want their admission to be dependent on A-Levels they took ten years ago? As such, we’ll consider relevant work experience much more strongly than we would for applications from students aged 20 or under. 

So if you’re a mature student that wants to study BSc Economics, and have spent five years working for an accountancy firm, then we might be able to look past those pesky A-Level results from 2010!

Your qualifications won’t count towards institutional tariff scores

In a previous blog post, we talked about how qualifications are worth UCAS tariff points, and how the tariff points achieved by accepted students affect a university’s league table position. Well, if you’re over the age of 22, your qualifications no longer carry UCAS tariff points, and institutions do not have to worry about any potential impact to their tariff scores. 

While that doesn’t mean that your academic grades mean nothing, it does mean that prior under-performance in exams can be allowed for if you show potential in other areas. 

No, you don’t need to find your old tutor from 2005 for a reference

The application process requires applicants to provide a reference from their last place of study – usually a teacher or other authority. 

However, if you have been out of study for five years, a professional reference will do instead.

But you can’t study undergraduate courses part-time at SOAS

The pressures of family and work life mean that – for some mature students – returning to education can only be a part-time venture. 

While SOAS offers part-time and distance learning options for its postgraduate degrees, we are unfortunately unable to accommodate these modes of study on our undergraduate programmes. 

Meet similar students on the Mature Students Bridging Course

Re-adjusting to life as a student can be challenging, so SOAS’ Mature Bridging Course is designed to make that transition as smooth as possible. 

The course kicks off one week before the official Welcome Week (21st September 2020), and is an opportunity for mature students to meet peers and lecturers, and to attend talks, lectures, and workshops designed to provide students with information that will help you settle into SOAS before your course begins.  The COVID-19 outbreak means that the Bridging Course this year will be online.

Apply to SOAS via UCAS Clearing here.

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