'Mature student or applicant' is the term used by universities for people who are aged 21 or over and are applying to university for the first time. It is not simply a description based on your age, but is more about the fact that you have not been in formal education for a few years. 

Everyone's reason for deciding to come to university is different. We have applicants who have been working for many years and and are ready for a career change. Some are not currently working and see it as an opportunity to re-train and prepare for the job market. Others have reached a stage in their life where they have the time and opportunity to study for intellectual and personal satisfaction.

Mature students make a significant contribution to the learning environment and are about 10% of our student community.

There are a number of ways mature applicants can become qualified for entry to the University. These include completing and passing:

  • an Access course offered by most local Further Education (FE) colleges
  • Open University foundation courses
  • SQA Highers, A Levels, or HNC/HND qualifications at FE college.


Achieving formal qualifications is not the only way we can assess an applicant's potential. We look at each application and take skills, experience, abilities, commitment and motivation to study into account. Experience may include knowledge or practice you have gained from a variety of areas, including previous work or study, voluntary or community involvement or carer responsibilities. 

We do not expect mature applicants to apply with the same qualifications as school leavers, who have the benefit of at least five years recent secondary education. As a mature applicant we will normally expect you to obtain some recent qualifications after returning to study. This recent evidence of studying enables us to assess your potential for degree-level studies, and also shows evidence of your appetite for further study. We deal with all applications on their individual merits.

How to apply

Applications for full time undergraduate degree courses should be made through UCAS. Please refer to our How to apply page for further information and key application dates.


Many mature students have described their university experiences as 'juggling' or 'plate spinning'. You soon become skilled at effective time management and balancing your domestic and academic life. Supporting our students is important to us and we have a range of student support services for all students to use.