Adult Learners

Returning to education as an adult

Every year, many people decide to return to study – to learn new skills, to change career or improve job prospects, to take advantage of education opportunities, and to pursue their passions. This may be classed as ‘higher education’ (shortened to ‘HE’) which is education at level 4 or above (GCSEs and equivalents are level 2, while A-levels, BTECs and equivalents are level 3, and anything above this is higher education).

You can study higher education in institutions such as a university, a college with higher education provision, and a conservatoire (a specialist performance-based institution). Anyone over the age of 21 going to university or college is referred to as a mature student, although some colleges use the term ‘adult learners’ to distinguish from students who are 16-19. To avoid confusion, we use the term ‘mature students’ for anyone who’s had a significant break from study.

Remote learning (widely adopted during the pandemic), part-time study, different routes to achieving qualifications, and funding opportunities all provide more flexible learning opportunities for mature learners to access higher education.

Mature learners represent a significant proportion of students nationally. You’ll be welcomed for the experiences and knowledge you bring to your studies.