Mature students

We welcome applicants who may not have come directly from school or college and who wish to return to education at different stages of their lives. The decision to enter higher education as a student can be a difficult one in terms of commitment and financial circumstances. We provide the support that you need to make the most of your time here, and with that support and your own determination, you’ll find the whole experience very rewarding.


If you are considering, or have just started, an Access to HE Diploma course you may feel that it’s very early to start thinking about applying to university. However, you will start applying to university from mid-September, very soon after commencing your course, so it’s worth spending some time finding out about universities and courses before then. We are aware that if you are undertaking an Access to HE Diploma course you will be applying very soon after this begins so your tutor may not have had the chance to get to know you very well at the time you apply. Nevertheless, we strongly encourage you to apply early and are happy for tutors to put a note on your reference stating that they will send a more detailed reference at a later date.

Offers to Access students who apply for entry in 2016 will usually be conditional on passing the qualification with grades of merit and/or distinction in named units and may also include 6 L3 credits at pass grade in relevant unit[s] if GCSE English Language/Mathematics grade C or better has not been previously achieved. Typical offers will be updated on the UCAS website under individual programme requirements.

Students who wish to study full-time should apply through UCAS, and their website is a good place to start your research.

Our decision

We recognise that mature students may offer different qualifications and experience, which will be taken into account when we assess your application, it is obviously important that you have adequate experience and/or qualifications to allow you to cope with academic demands of your course. It is normally recommended that you should have undertaken some recognised systematic course of study (eg, Access, Open University credits, or GCE A levels) within the last three years.

Where an applicant has not undertaken any recognised form of systematic study within the last three years, the application may be referred to the Admissions Tutor for consideration. We advise that full details of any relevant work experience or other relevant information is provided within the application. We may also ask applicants who fall into this category to attend an interview to ensure that they are suitable for entry into a particular programme of study.

If you have any queries concerning entrance requirements, please contact the Admissions Office who will be happy to advise accordingly. Official notification of our decision will be made through UCAS.

More information and advice about applying to Exeter can be found on our How to Apply pages.

Part-time study

Our Flexible Combined Honours scheme is available to those wishing to study part-time, and some of our other undergraduate degrees are also potentially available by part-time study. However, you should check with the relevant academic department to ensure that it is possible with respect to timetabling arrangements before you make a formal application. A three-year undergraduate degree would typically take six years to complete by part-time study. Applications for part-time study should be made direct to the University’s Admissions Office and not through UCAS.


Our Open Days allow you to find out more about studying at the University and the support available to you as a mature student. There will also be an opportunity for you to meet other mature students who recently returned to study.

We regularly run guided campus tours where you will be shown many of the facilities such as the library, Students’ Guild (students’ union) buildings and sports facilities. The tours are generally led by one of our current students. The tours don’t include visits to subject departments but you are welcome to contact departments direct to see if you can visit them whilst you are on campus. Many subject admissions staff welcome the opportunity to meet prospective mature students and discuss entry requirements and course content, but their availability will be dependant on teaching commitments.

Register now for our Mature Student Conference which is being held on Thursday 5th October on our University of Exeter Streatham Campus, Exeter. The day will provide specific information about student funding, study skills and the opportunity to meet both current mature students and representatives from universities’ across the South West.


Academic skills development

At Exeter our Student Skills Service offers a range of workshops and tutorials to help develop study skills. Many students who have been out of formal education for some time find these particularly useful.

In addition the Service runs Mature Students’ Days twice a year. These events offer a good opportunity to form support networks early in the academic year.

In Cornwall ASK Academic Skills advisers can provide one-to-one guidance and information on all aspects of learning and academic study.

Childcare facilities

The University of Exeter provides a purpose-built Family Centre on the Streatham Campus. The Penryn Campus is served by the Woodlane Nursery. You may also be entitled to the Childcare Grant. The amount you receive will be dependent upon your household income and is based on 85% of your actual childcare costs. For more information visit the Student Finance England website.

Student societies 

At the Exeter campuses, the Exeter Mature Students' Society provides peer support and organises activities.


We are pleased to offer a student mentor to answer any questions you may have concerning university life and experiences. Our mentors are 2nd and 3rd year students. If you would like a mentor please email with the following information: Your name, age, email address, gender, your course, first language and preferred gender of mentor. 

I went back to education by taking an Access course after my first child started school. Having been out of the system for ten years I felt apprehensive about taking on the commitment of a degree, especially with a family to look after. I actually found the whole experience amazing. There is so much support and understanding for mature students in terms of practical issues like finance and general, pastoral care. I graduated this year with First Class Honours and feel such a huge sense of pride in my achievement. As a result of my studies I have more than a degree; I have more confidence and the sense that I know I can do anything I set my mind to. My youngest child starts school soon and I can’t wait to begin my career! 

Sanchia Hylton-Smith, BA English graduate