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UCAS defines mature students as 'any student aged 21 or over at the start of their studies'. One in every five students at Southampton Solent University fall into this category, and we pride ourselves on being a diverse and welcoming community.

Why enter higher education as a mature student?

There are many reasons for mature students to enter higher education: to completely change career direction and enter a new profession, to achieve personal goals and ambitions having missed earlier opportunities, or to improve current employment prospects.

What do mature students bring to the University?

As a mature student you have many attributes and transferable skills that 18 year old undergraduates might not. Your additional life and work experience will have equipped you with relevant skills in time management, problem solving and multi-tasking, as well as a passion and enthusiasm to study your course.

Remember, when integrating with other students in lectures and tutorials you are able to bring your additional knowledge and experiences to course discussions and debates. Other students will value and respect this input tremendously, making it easy to bond with your coursemates.

Concerns you may have as a mature student

All new students who enter higher education, regardless of age and background, have anxieties about coping with the demands of a university course. Workload commitments, timetables, assignment expectations, examinations, accessing support and making friends are all common causes of concern.

However, it's important to remember that this is normal and healthy behaviour. To help ease your mind, we encourage you to take full advantage of Solent University planned open days and online live chats.

When you attend one of our planned open days, you will get to meet academic staff that will be teaching you on your chosen course. Not only will they help you better understand the content of your course and what will be required of you, they will also give you a clear picture of the academic and domestic support that is available to all Solent students.

Visiting open days is particularly beneficial for mature students, as it's here that you will get your first opportunity to meet the mature student ambassadors. These ambassadors are always happy to chat about their experiences as a mature student at Southampton Solent, and will be able to introduce you to other mature students in their network.

If you have financial concerns, you can speak in confidence to a member of the student funding team. Please email for an appointment.

Gateway Programme

Once you have been offered a place on one of our courses, you will be invited to attend our Gateway Programme. The programme is designed to help mature students settle into Solent University life prior to arrival of other undergraduate students. 

Participants will have the opportunity to meet other mature students in a friendly and relaxed environment. The Gateway team will also help students to feel comfortable with the core skills required for higher education. This includes the management of group work, reflective thinking, and presentation skills.

To be eligible for this programme, which is usually run in September, you must have been out of education for a minimum of three years.


At Solent, we host many social events that are inclusive of all students. There are also a lot of clubs and societies you can join - it all depends on how much time you have free, what you enjoy doing and how much you want to get involved.

A great place to start is the Students' Union's Mature Student Society, which organise coffee mornings, themed film nights and other activities which are perfect for networking with other mature students.

Support for armed service leavers

Those who are leaving the armed forces benefit from all of the above support, as well specialist financial assistance (dependant on qualifying service). To find out more about support for armed service leavers, please follow the link below.

Find out more

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