Looking to Get Back Into Academics

    • Thread Starter

    Hello everyone,
    I left school at 15 and moved abroad, and stayed there for 2 years running 2 hotels & 3 nightclubs/bars for my dad whilst he maintained another 5 of each further north in Thailand. I'd like to think this helped my grow up considerably, however, with this, I left school with no GCSE's. Looking back i'm pretty gutted on this as I could've been somewhere good by now haha.

    Upon my return I gained an apprenticeship as an electrician (industrial), and I will qualify next year if all goes to plan. After I qualify I am looking at leaving the firm i'm with and going back to college to do a HND in either electrical engineering or civil engineering (They won't give me day release once I qualify), and, in turn, use this to go to university.

    By the time I have attained the HND and so on, I will be 22, pushing on for 23 and i'm led to believe this is what universities would consider a "mature student" to be.

    What would the chances of someone such as myself actually having the opportunity to go to university? Ideally, i'd love to stick with the Electric route, however, with engineering being such a strong subject in terms of entry requirements with A levels and such, is there really any point in trying to go for the HND to get into uni in the first place?


    First off, well done for taking the decision to go and do it. That's a really good step and I'm sure one you won't regret and you are not too old.;

    How do I know????? I am a mature student (25) studying engineering and entered without A-Levels!

    What I did.......

    I didn't have A-levels due to a family situation at the time and so commenced full-time work in the UK. I gained experience which definitely matured me and gave me some excellent experience which is a huge advantage in interviews that I have recently had for graduate positions.

    At 21 I decided to go to University and had to look within a radius of my home as I would be commuting for financial reasons. Fortunately, University of Southampton was there. They offer a few Foundation years that give education to A-level standard, providing the necessary base for entering into the normal course. They do have entry requirements of their own, but as a mature student you may be exempt or the entry requirements might be lower. They were for me. The foundation years offer two main positives in my view...

    1) Upon successful completion they provide automatic entry into the degree programme you specified.
    2) They come under University study and so you have full student finance support as in any other course.

    I first off studied the Science Foundation Year as the entry requirements were flexible. That then allowed me to enter into the Engineering Foundation Year. So in total, I have A-Level equivalents in Physics, Math, Chemistry and Biology.

    Toward the end of the Engineering Foundation Year I made my choice to go into Aerospace Engineering, although others went into Electrical/Electronic Engineering. The Uni of Soton is ranked very high for engineering in general and so the Foundation years offered me a route in that I would never have been able to achieve otherwise.

    I'm now in my second year and achieved 77.5% average in my January exams. I worked hard for it, but I hope that demonstrates the Foundation years do serve as a very good, erm, foundation.

    Also, check with professional organisations what support they might offer you for entering higher education. I think the institute of mechanical engineers offers scholarships for those that have completed an engineering apprenticeship and are going to university. I'm sure there will be other things available related to electrical.

    For information on Southampton's courses, go to www.soton.ac.uk, have a look under undergraduate courses starting in 2012, then go to one of the engineering courses and look at the ...with foundation year course. That should then provide the contact info for the admissions office in the foundation year department. They are extremely helpful and very friendly.

    I'm sure other universities offer similar courses. Any further questions please just add to this thread. Hope it helps.


    Well done on looking into it and I wish you all the best in getting there!

    I am a mature student (25) studying engineering at the University of Southampton. I also lacked A-levels due to family situation at the time (I left my sixth form courses). I then worked for a few years until at 21 I decided to pursue education once more.

    What I did....

    Southampton University offer foundation years for students who do not meet the academic requirements for the main degree programmes for whatever personal reasons. That includes mature students which at over 21 you would be classed as, I was. They still do have a minimum academic requirement, although this can be met with alternatives by mature students, so your apprenticeship, HND or whatever may be sufficient.

    I entered into the Science Foundation Year first of all, as for that course, being a mature student, my application was enough to enter without any higher education. The Science Fdn Yr provided equivalence to A-Levels in Biology, Chemistry and AS-Level Math. That allowed me to progress into the Engineering Fdn Yr. The Eng Fdn Yr was much more demanding, hence why I needed further study before entering. For you personally, the HND, etc, may well be enough.

    The Foundation years have two main benefits in my mind....
    1) Funding the same as any other university course
    2) Automatic entry into the main degree programme upon successful completion

    I chose Aeronautics and Astronautics, but other friends went into physics, maths, electrical eng, electronic eng, computer science. So it would seem to offer a route to where you want to go.

    In terms of the preparation it gave me for my degree, I am in my second year and have so far got a 77.5% average this year. With hard work, the foundation years really are enough.

    My advice would be look at what funding may be available to you as coming from an apprenticeship there may be scholarships available from professional engineering bodies. I think IMechE would be a good google. There are also others for the electrical and electronic bodies I'm sure.

    Southampton University is ranked highly for engineering and the foundation years have enabled me to get there. My alternative qualifications are not frowned upon by employers. I have just been offered a year long internship with Rolls-Royce and have also been offered an internship with a financial company that I will be taking this summer.

    I'm sure other Universiities offer similar courses and your different experiences will be seen as a benefit. More focused, more mature than peers, more settled in life, etc. So good luck to you and any other questions you may have feel free to ask on the thread.


    Annoying as anything! I thought my post had been lost, hence I rewrote it lol! Apologies.
    • Thread Starter

    haha no need to apologise!
    Thankyou very much for you input, found it interesting!

    Do mature students tend to get interviews to bolster their UCAS personal statements and such?

    This is something i've wanted to do for years, but obviously, things didn't pan out that way.
    That's fantastic news about the internship offers, congratulations!

    I personally only applied to Southampton and so can't speak for other universities. But, when I did apply, looking at the entry requirements on UCAS, for mature students it often says an interview might be required.

    I would recommend building as much rapport with the admissions department as you can. Phone them directly and ask their advice. Entry requirements, etc, will vary from uni to uni, department to department, so its best speaking to them. I didn't have to attend an interview but I had spoken a number of times on the phone to the admissions lady and I had discussed my motivations, etc, with her then.

    I would honestly recommend just speaking to the universities directly and ask them the same things you have here. They are the ones that will ultimately make the decisions, so just speak to them and start building a rapport. It shows motivation and commitment to be thinking of it this early on and they welcome students with that kind of attitude.

    Good luck.

    (Original post by StuPro)
    Annoying as anything! I thought my post had been lost, hence I rewrote it lol! Apologies.
    So annoying isn't it. But it shows that you really want to help people and this is something to feel good about. Good luck all!
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