What Age Do You Start and Finish University?

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As we approach the spring term, it may strike a shock to current Year 13’s that their school education is coming to a close and soon they will be embarking on the start of a new journey; either beginning an apprenticeship for their ideal job or furthering their studies through university education. Whilst this is still a large portion of your education, it is very much different to the standard 12 years that we spend in primary and secondary education.  

In a nutshell, most people leave school at 18 to start university and finish their university education at around the age of 21. Despite this general overview of most students, this can obviously vary depending on the individual and their preferences. For example, many students take gap years or simply choose to pursue further education later on in life.  

The above briefly summarizes the skeleton of information in this article but read on for helpful details which could be useful to you in increasing your knowledge about the process of University education. 

What Age Do Students Start University? 

As aforementioned in the introduction, most students will be around the age of 18 when they head off to study at University. Usually after arriving at University (normally in September or October), students will begin their studies on their chosen undergraduate course. The time between the start of a student’s University course and Sixth Form College (where A-Levels or BTECs are studied) is filled by the summer break.  

It is really important that this summer break is not just used for fun activities as there is lots to do for a prospective University student during this time. Below, I have listed two things it is crucial not to forget during the summer break: 

  • Applying for student finance 
  • Applying for your chosen Universities accommodation 

The summer break passes so fast so ensure you don’t forget the above things! 

It is important to note that some people may decide later on in life that they wish to undertake another degree or university course, and therefore they may start university at an older age, which is what we refer to as a ‘mature student’. A mature student can be defined as anyone who is over the age of 21 as they commence their university studies. This may be because they decided to retake a year at school or because they wanted to achieve another degree later on in life.  

What Age Do Students Finish University? 

Whilst it is easier to place a smaller range upon the ages of students as they commence their university education, it may be more difficult to identify the average age students are as they finish their degrees. Essentially, it all boils down to the type of course that you undertake, as they are of varied lengths. If you wish to achieve a foundation degree or a HND (Higher National Diploma) the course length may be roughly 2 years, and to achieve a bachelor’s degree, a further year or two of extra full-time study is required. So, on average, the ages that you may expect students to graduate are around 21 to 23.   

There are a few exceptions to this. For example, the study of medicine to become a doctor requires a 5-year course followed by 2 years of foundation training, 2-3 years of core medical training and 4-7 years of specialist training (if you would like to find out more about the qualifications you need to become a doctor, have a read of this useful article!). If you are worried about how old you’ll be by the time you graduate to fulfil your dream job, it is important to check university websites for different course lengths, so you are fully informed. 

What is the Youngest Age You Can Go to University? 

For an answer to this question, I can only draw your attention to a direct answer from the University of Kent. Below is what they have said and you can find more information of their website here. 

“The minimum age to study a degree programme at the university is normally at least 17 years old by the 20th September in the year the course begins. There is no upper age limit.” 

It is important to point out that they also said that “In exceptional circumstances the University may waive this requirement for applicants who will be at least 16, but less than 17 years of age on admission, on an individual basis, provided that their parents or guardians have given their written agreement in advance to additional safeguards and requirements as specified in Regulations.” Therefore, there are circumstances where students less than the age of 18 could be enrolled onto a university course. 

Don’t forget that different universities have different age polices so it is crucial to check your individual university. 

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