Is There a Maximum Age for University in the UK?

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University is a brilliant opportunity to enhance your education and gain an important and useful qualification. The extensive range of subjects means you can find an option that perfectly suits your needs and interests. The university environment also provides an important and exciting social experience. Although the prospect of university is something to look forward to, it can also be very daunting, especially if you are unsure about age limitations or requirements universities may have.

There is no maximum age for university in the UK. There are numerous factors that can affect the application process for courses and for student finances, but there is no strict upper age limit.

The answer above provides only the basic information. Do you want to learn more? Continue reading this article for a full explanation.

Can you apply for university at any age?

Approximately 60% of students will have started university when they were 18, having come straight from A-Level, or equivalent, education; but this does not mean you have to be 18 to apply. Most universities have rules and requirements about the minimum age of students, but there is no upper age limit. For more information regarding ages in university, read this Think Student article.

Mature students that are returning to education much later in life may have qualifications that use a different system or differ in another way to qualifications now, as of 2022. The entry requirements for universities are generally quite flexible and so older qualifications will likely still be valid. For courses with more restricted or specific requirements, admissions staff are available to provide detailed information about the validity of past qualifications and whether they meet the necessary standards. If your qualifications do not completely meet the requirements, you may need to take an access course first.

What is a mature student?

The term ‘mature student’ can also refer to college students of specific ages, but in terms of students at university. A mature student is someone who goes to university after an amount of time away from full education. This usually refers to students that are over the age of 21 and starting undergraduate courses and those who are over 25 beginning postgraduate courses.

In some cases, mature students may have struggled to gain previous qualifications and had to retake elements of the course. This could include resitting GCSEs or redoing a year of college, so are starting university later. Others may return to education later in life to progress their career or to find a completely new career path. Either way, it is an opportunity from which you will learn vital new skills and knowledge.

It may seem as if universities only try to appeal to a younger audience, so you may be worried about the possibility of being the oldest in your class or about standing out from the university crowd. However, about a third of all undergraduate students are mature students of varying ages and backgrounds, and over 40% of them are older than 30. So, you have no need to worry. To find out more about being a mature student and to learn from the experiences of previous mature students, read this UCAS page.

Can you get a student loan as a mature student?

Almost any student can apply for a student loan after enrolling into a university course. Although it varies slightly between universities and deadlines may change, applications for student finances are generally open February to March every year.

Due to the variation of deadlines between different universities, it is advised that you check your specific deadlines and apply for a loan relatively early just in case. Applying for finances early is also beneficial as it means you will not have to wait as long to receive the amount of money, so you will not be as restricted financially. To access more information about student finance application deadlines, read this Think Student article.

How do you apply for student finance?

To apply for student finances, there is certain information that you need to provide and specific criteria that you need to meet to be granted the loan. It is a complex process for the university and so this application information is extremely important. However, despite the minimum age requirement for university, age is not a deciding factor in this instance. The following list briefly details the type of information you need to provide when applying for a student loan:  

  • Nationality and Home Status- This information is necessary to prove that you have lived in the UK for at least 3 years before beginning the course and that there is no restriction on the amount of time you can stay. This determines whether you are eligible for home fee status, tuition fees and maintenance cost support.
  • Place and Course of Study- Ensuring you disclose the university that you wish to study at is important as only publicly funded universities or private institutions that are publicly funded fit into the specific criteria. This is also important as the intensity of the course can determine the amount of money you are given.
  • Previous Study- Information about previous studies is important as you may only be allowed limited funding if you have already completed a degree.
  • Age- Different nations have slightly varying requirements determining age but, typically, there is no strict upper age limit for mature student applying for student loans.

This shows how age is not the most crucial factor regarding student finance as there is no strict limit. It may be more difficult for mature students over 60 years old to apply for a loan. As of 2022 in England students over 60 can still generally be granted a student loan, although it can vary between candidates due to other factors. To find out more information about student finances, check out this Think Student article.

Can you complete a university course with other commitments?

Mature students are more likely to be juggling full-time jobs and caring for a family alongside university. This may seem difficult, but there are different options to work around commitments and there are always staff members at the university to provide help and more specific information about the course.

As of 2022, there are online and open university options that allow students of any ages to study from home. These courses provide students with the same knowledge and skills without the added commitment of travelling to and from campus. There are also part-time degree options available that allow students to complete the course over an increased number of years, but on a less intensive basis. To find out more about open courses visit and check out this Think Student article that discusses part time courses.

What is an access course?

If you are a mature student, you may want to consider taking an access course. An Access Course, also known as an Access to Higher Education Diploma, is a Level 3 qualification (equivalent to A-Level) that is nationally recognised in the UK.

This type of course is specially designed to prepare adults for higher education, providing its participants with the opportunities to develop vital skills and knowledge for their chosen study area. Taking an access course could help you access higher education, or it could provide you with another chance at graduating university, in a different subject area, to progress your career. Visit this website for more information.

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