Practical advice and support

If you are returning to education after some time away, it’s likely that you will have a lot to think about. Many returning students need to balance studying with work and home life. There are a number of ways that universities can support you to ensure that you are able to get the most out of your higher education journey and have the information you need.

Take a look at our How will I pay for it? page for information on tuition fees, maintenance loans and financial support available across the UK.

Tuition fee loans are available for all students, with no age limits, providing that they are studying their first undergraduate degree. Maintenance loans are provided by the government to help with living costs such as accommodation and costs associated with your course. You will start to pay these loans back after graduation at an incremental rate, once you earn above £25,725.

Universities provide information about likely costs you may incur while undertaking a course, as well as accommodation and living costs. You can find this on their websites, as well as from the course pages on Discover Uni, under the ‘information on the uni website’ section.

Finances are often a big consideration for students returning to education, as you may need to study alongside your work, or balance the costs of learning against other financial commitments. Universities often have scholarships and bursaries aimed at older students, so it’s worth contacting them to see what help is available. There is also government funding available for those with caring responsibilities.

There is a range of accommodation available for students that need it. Take a look at our accommodation page to find out more.

Many returning students choose to study close to home or work. Increasingly, higher education courses are available at further education colleges, which widens the number of options available locally. You can find courses near you by using the filter options when you search for courses on Discover Uni.

You will need to think carefully about the types of support that you will need to ensure a smooth transition to studying. If you are applying through UCAS, you can declare some specific needs as part of your application. The application form will provide details of what happens to the personal information you provide as part of your application. Our applying to uni or college page explains the application process.

It’s a good idea to speak to the student support services at universities you’re considering to discuss your specific circumstances and see what facilities and support is available. Additionally, most universities and colleges have a students’ union or guild. These are primarily to represent students’ interests and can provide advice and support.

You may also like to attend open days at the universities you are interested in. This is a great way to understand the size and feel of the campus you will be based in, see its facilities first hand, and talk to current students. Many providers offer virtual open days if you are unable to travel there in person – details will be available on their websites.

If you have a family, or other caring responsibilities, you may require flexibility in your studies. Many higher education providers have onsite childcare facilities available or can advise on local childcare options you can use whilst studying.

You may wish to discuss an ongoing medical condition with your course provider. If you require support with a learning difference or disability, the student support team will be able to provide assistance with ensuring your learning needs are met and the accessibility of your course, and advise you on practical issues such as accommodation needs and parking on campus.

There is extra support and funding available for students with specific needs. For more details, as well as more information about the different types of support available and how to access this, take a look at our student support pages.

As well as more formal support, you may be interested to find out more about social groups and societies at your university. You are likely to find there are many clubs that align with your interests and enable you to meet other like-minded people. Your student union should be able to advise you on activities available.

Looking for some practical tips, or to know more about why students decide to start uni as a mature learner? See our videos from current mature students on what motivated them to return to study, and their top tips.

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