Shain21
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Hi all, I’m 26 and want to go to uni. I left school at 18. Since then I have been working in retail for the past 8 years with an apprenticeship in retail. I’ve heard they look for life experience and that would be counted Aslong as I can show that I’m more than capable and willing to learn, which I am. I have also travelled a lot by myself and lived in Australia for 1 year. I don’t know if all of this is counted towards an application for a mature student but from what I’ve been reading, it is? I have my GCSEs in English and maths at grade B and B for both. I also have BTEC level 2s in IT and Business. I want to know if it’s possible to go straight into uni as a mature student? I would obviously be willing to do a foundation year which progresses onto a degree. With my grades is it possible in any way to get in? I want that uni experience and don’t really want to do a access course and would much rather prefer going straight into uni. What are my options?

Can access courses be done at uni if possible? I would rather study at a university campus than online or at home?

Really hope to hear from you soon and thank you very much in advance for the advice.
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artful_lounger
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Usually universities look for evidence of recent study (typically within the last 3 years) from mature students - examples could be doing A-levels or a similar level 3 course, doing an Access to HE diploma, or doing modules with the OU (usually in that case the ask for 120 credits). There might also be specific prerequisite subjects depending on what course you want to apply to (e.g. if you wanted to study engineering, you would probably be expected to have studied physics and maths to A-level or equivalent).

Some courses with a foundation year might consider those without any recent qualifications but even they might like to see some evidence you are capable of doing academic work currently. Generally "life experience" won't substitute for meeting the academic entry criteria for a degree, unless you're applying to a degree associated with some particular vocation/field and you've been working in that field for sometime.

In the first instance, I'd recommend looking at the requirements for any courses and unis you may want to apply to, and then contact the uni directly to discuss if you would be considered in applying for them (mainly for courses with a foundation year). However you should also start looking at options to undertake some formal academic study in preparation for uni, such as those routes suggested above. Note that for Access to HE diplomas, you should be able to fund the tuition fees of one with an Advanced Learner Loan (ALL) normally (although check with the provider if the course is eligible), and if you go on to complete a degree after doing an Access course funded in this way the ALL gets written off
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Shain21
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(Original post by artful_lounger)
Usually universities look for evidence of recent study (typically within the last 3 years) from mature students - examples could be doing A-levels or a similar level 3 course, doing an Access to HE diploma, or doing modules with the OU (usually in that case the ask for 120 credits). There might also be specific prerequisite subjects depending on what course you want to apply to (e.g. if you wanted to study engineering, you would probably be expected to have studied physics and maths to A-level or equivalent).

Some courses with a foundation year might consider those without any recent qualifications but even they might like to see some evidence you are capable of doing academic work currently. Generally "life experience" won't substitute for meeting the academic entry criteria for a degree, unless you're applying to a degree associated with some particular vocation/field and you've been working in that field for sometime.

In the first instance, I'd recommend looking at the requirements for any courses and unis you may want to apply to, and then contact the uni directly to discuss if you would be considered in applying for them (mainly for courses with a foundation year). However you should also start looking at options to undertake some formal academic study in preparation for uni, such as those routes suggested above. Note that for Access to HE diplomas, you should be able to fund the tuition fees of one with an Advanced Learner Loan (ALL) normally (although check with the provider if the course is eligible), and if you go on to complete a degree after doing an Access course funded in this way the ALL gets written off
Thank you for the quick response. Much appreciated. Yeah I think I’m going to contact a few universities I’ve had in mind but I’m not going to keep my hopes high. I generally really wanted to study outside of the city I’m from. I believe I will be much more focused if I do so as there are far too many distractions at home. Is access to higher education solely done online? If that’s what I have to do to get into uni, I guess that’s just a part of the process. I’m at the point in life where I want change and I feel so focused and determined as this is all that’s been on my mind recently. that I just want to get on a course ASAP. I really want to actually move out and study in a different city. When I do contact the universities will they be open to the questions I have? Some of what I’ve already said in my original post and a few more or will they just tell me to apply and see where it goes? I know every unis response will be different but just in general? Because I just don’t want vague responses, I actually want to know the best path and if this path is possible and what to do next?
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artful_lounger
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(Original post by Shain21)
Thank you for the quick response. Much appreciated. Yeah I think I’m going to contact a few universities I’ve had in mind but I’m not going to keep my hopes high. I generally really wanted to study outside of the city I’m from. I believe I will be much more focused if I do so as there are far too many distractions at home. Is access to higher education solely done online? If that’s what I have to do to get into uni, I guess that’s just a part of the process. I’m at the point in life where I want change and I feel so focused and determined as this is all that’s been on my mind recently. that I just want to get on a course ASAP. I really want to actually move out and study in a different city. When I do contact the universities will they be open to the questions I have? Some of what I’ve already said in my original post and a few more or will they just tell me to apply and see where it goes? I know every unis response will be different but just in general? Because I just don’t want vague responses, I actually want to know the best path and if this path is possible and what to do next?
Access to HE courses may be in-person or online. The OU option is of course purely online though.

There is no set window to contact unis - so do so whenever you can! Bear in mind though their admissions teams are moving into a very busy period of the year right now so you may not get a response quickly at the moment. But usually they're very happy to answer questions from would-be applicants and are happy to answer queries from mature students.

In terms of what kind of response you'll get, this will probably vary between unis (and even departments!). Some may be very helpful and specific, others might be more likely to give you "boilerplate" responses. There's really no way to know what you'll get before you ask though!

Also, although offerings are limited currently and mostly online due to covid, if you can attend any open days or similar things, that might be a good opportunity to ask about some of these things in person in a less formal setting (which might reduce the chance of getting a very "official but not informative" answer)
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Coventry University Student Ambassadors
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Hi there,

The best thing you can do is get in touch with the universities you are considering for your studies and ask them for their entry requirements. If they recommend an access course this is where I can give you a bit of an insight into my own personal experiences.

Some universities do offer Access to HE courses. I studied mine in social sciences at CU Scarborough and then went straight into a degree at the same university when I had finished the access course. Have a look at the universities around you and whether this is something they offer. Access courses are a great way to resented education if you’ve been out of it for a while. Whilst it is a fairly difficult year, what I will say is that it gives you an amazing head start when it comes to starting on your degree. As my course was taught at the university, I learnt properly how to reference, research, write essays, reports and present. By the time I’d completed the course my confidence had grown so much and when I started my degree I felt so prepared.

Compared to classmates who had come straight from college, I felt like I had more awareness of how university life really was and how to handle assessments in my first year. My main tip would be just to keep on top of the workload: make sure you’re giving yourself sufficient time to do the work, but also make sure as you have some down time too. You’ll deserve it!

Mel - CU Scarborough Student Ambassador (Primary Education and Teaching Studies)
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