Undergraduate study

Mature students

How to apply
A mature student working on their laptop

Studying at Essex as a mature student

Impatient for change? It’s time for a fresh start. Join our diverse community of students who have decided to study for their degree later in life. Whether you’re 21 or 51, career-changers or first-timers, your dedication to education is all that matters.

What is a mature student?

A mature student, or an adult-leaner, is a person over the age of 21 who didn’t attend university following their A-levels. A large portion of this community have been building a full-time or part-time career or starting their family, and the current job market has required them to start again. Others may only feel mature-ish and have simply decided to join higher education later than the average student. Choosing to get a degree is a popular decision for people wanting to progress in their career by learning new skills and gaining new qualifications. It’s also a starting point for career-changers who are deciding to retrain in another field. Whatever your reasons, rest assured, the University of Essex isn’t just for 18-year-olds.

We appreciate that starting your degree as a mature student can have its challenges, especially if you have other life commitments such as family or work. That’s why we offer a wide range of support to make your transition into education as smooth as possible.

Explore Essex

Entry requirements

Typical entry requirements can be found on our course pages and we’re pleased to consider a wide range of qualifications, including A-Levels, BTECs, Access to HE Diplomas, Practicing professional qualifications, and many more. However, at Essex we recognise that students come from all backgrounds and embrace the different experiences that mature learners bring to our student community. We welcome applications from mature students and students with non-traditional academic backgrounds. We will consider your educational and employment history, along with your personal statement and reference, to gain a rounded view of your suitability for the course.

Depending on your application, you may be considered for direct entry into year 1, however some mature applicants are considered for our Essex Pathways department which helps students who may not meet the entry requirements for Year 1 to grow in confidence, unlock their potential, and nurture their ambitions so they can progress.

Essex Pathways provides a yearlong course before the start of the first year of degree study, often without the need for an Access Course or A-levels, and equip you with the necessary skills and knowledge to succeed on your chosen course. From the very first moment you arrive, you will feel part of the Essex community and have access to all the facilities our campus has to offer. Pathways work closely with all other departments, schools and centres across the University, and guarantee that a place is secured on your chosen degree programme as long as you successfully complete your Pathways course.

Our Essex Pathways team is on hand to answer any questions, or have a conversation with you as part of your decision making process. Please contact us on epd@essex.ac.uk

Essex Pathways

Essex Pathways provides a yearlong course before the start of the first year of degree study, often without the need for an Access Course or A-levels. Essex Pathways work closely with all departments, schools and centres across the University to help equip you with the necessary skills to succeed on your chosen course. From the very first moment you arrive, you will feel part of the Essex community and have access to all the facilities our campus has to offer. You are guaranteed a place on your chosen degree programme if you successfully complete your Pathways course.

Our Essex Pathways team is on hand to answer any questions or have a conversation with you as part of your decision-making process. Please contact us at epd@essex.ac.uk.

You're amongst like-minded people

During your first week at Essex, also known as Welcome Week, the Students’ Union hold an annual Mature Student’s Mixer to celebrate your entry into university. Here you can meet your peers, share your stories and make life-long friends. Over 30% of our students are over the age of 21 when they first apply, so it won’t take long for you to feel at home.

The Mature Students Hub is also run by the Student’s Union. Their aim is to ensure you feel supported within the community, by signing up to socialise with other mature students, sharing stories and social events.

Another way to socialise is online with Unibuddy. Unibuddy is an online forum where you can find and talk to other students just like you. Available 24/7, 365 days a year.

Find out more about the information and support available to mature and part-time students.

Finance and funding

There is a range of funding options to help cover fees. If this is your first time at university, then a government-backed student loan is offered to help fund tuition. Check to see if you’re eligible on our fees and funding page. If you have already achieved a degree and are looking to change lanes, then your student finance may be affected by “repeat funding” rules. This is explained further on the Gov.uk website alongside eligibility criteria.

You can also browse our Scholarship Finder for opportunities for bursaries and scholarships.

Childcare facilities

0-5 years

Studying as an adult-learner can be challenging, especially if you have young children at home. At the University of Essex, we have an on-site nursery for pre-school children called Wivenhoe Park Day Nursery. Just a five-minute walk from the Colchester Campus, the nursery provides high-quality interactive and educational indoor and outdoor activities for children of Essex students and staff. The nursery offers half-days and full-days and is rated “Outstanding” by Ofsted. If you have a child aged between 3-months and 5-years, you can study at ease, knowing your child is in great hands.

5-14 years

For older children, there are school holiday childcare options like our CHUMS classes run by Essex Sport. Your child can enjoy fun activities including a wide range of sports, quiz teams, games and arts and crafts while spending time with their peers. CHUMS classes are split into three age groups, 5-7, 8-10 and 11-14 years, and each includes multiple activities tailored to the child’s age and ability.

Student support

Your life and professional experience might vary from fellow students as may your individual needs. There are many facets to being a student and being a particular age is just one of them. We'll give you a range of support and guidance so you enjoy your studies and life as a student. 

We love a chat at Essex, so if you ever need support, we encourage you to visit our Student Services Hub. No matter how big or small the issue, the team are here to answer your questions and give confidential advice. We also have dedicated professionals on-site to offer mental-health support including assessments and referrals for counselling.

Find out more about the information and support available to mature and part-time students.


We realise that living arrangements will create different experiences for you.

Living in University accommodation

If you are looking to live on campus, University accommodation is guaranteed for all new undergraduate students, and this includes mature students.

Rest assured we have specified flats for mature students if you are concerned about living with 18-21year olds. Just apply before the accommodation deadline as an undergraduate student to secure your housing.

The Residence Life team provide support if you're living in University accommodation. They can tell you who your Residents’ Assistant is and run a programme of events throughout the year, so you can socialise with other students.

Living off campus

You may already have your own home and decide to travel to campus for lectures. We have ample student parking on campus as well as access via nearby bus routes and train lines.

SU Homes can help you find secure, private accommodation if you want to live off campus. A helpful service that searches for local accommodation for students in the form of shared houses, purpose-built student accommodation and even entire house to let for you and your family.

Studying and working

A lot of students find the time to keep a part-time job and study for their degree simultaneously. The amount of contact time varies by course, this could be anywhere from 8 hours of seminars and lectures a week to 35 hours a week if your course involves lab-based work. Timetables for specific courses are released in September, so you can work around your contact time. There are always job opportunities around campus, working with the SU or in the local town centre. Explore our part-time work opportunities to find on-campus and local jobs that suit your schedule.

How to apply

Applying to Essex is easy with UCAS. Make sure you have your course code handy (or course codes if you’re applying to multiple courses) and click the button at the top of this page. Once we’ve received and reviewed your application, we’ll either email you with an offer, or send a request for further information if it’s required. Alternatively, if you want to apply for just one course, you can use our Direct Admissions form.

When submitting your application, you'll need to submit a Personal Statement too. Our admissions team have plenty of tips to help you to nail writing your Personal Statement, including advice on where to start, what to include and how to really stand out in your application! 

Skills for success: Get ready for Essex

Studying at university is an exciting prospect but can initially appear to be rather daunting too. Becoming familiar with university study settings can prepare you for success without stress. The purpose of these sessions is to demonstrate how academic study is, about preparation for, participation in, and contribution to academic discussion.

Waiting for you at Essex

Undergraduate admissions
Got questions? We are always open to chat. You can contact us via email, or give us a call on the number below
Telephone: 01206 873666