Mature students

We're happy to help anyone who is interested at studying at university whatever your age and background. As a mature student you have a wealth of valuable life and work experience that universities appreciate. We can help with advice on the qualifications you need to get into a degree, what support you can get, how to apply and anything else that you might need to know about coming to university. All you have to do is ask.

How do I choose what to study?

There are a lot of different courses you can use to get into university. No one course is any better than the other, so you need to find the right course for you. Some courses are taught in college, some at university, whilst others may be taught via distance learning like the Open University courses. Some are taught during the day, some at night. Some have costs attached whilst others might have financial support available. If you are not sure what course to do then get in touch with our Student Recruitment Team to get some advice.

It's important to find out what the entry requirements are for the degree you want to study. There might be a specific subject you have to study, or some extra requirements you need on top of your studies, and you need to know this before you decide what to study. You can find out exactly what by looking at our course pages - you are looking to see if there is an 'essential subjects' section in the entry requirements. Get in touch with the team to check if the access course you are looking at will meet our entry requirements, and if we can offer any extra advice on what you might need to support your application. 

Science subjects requirements

For most of our Science degrees we look for a specific subject at Higher with a B or above, or the equivalent - usually one of Biology, Chemistry, Mathematics or Physics. For some of the Environmental subjects we would also accept things like Environmental Science or Geography. You can find out exactly what by looking at our course pages - you are looking to see if there is an 'essential subjects' section in the entry requirements.

When you see 'or the equivalent', what we mean is we would accept something other than a Higher. For instance if you are doing an access course or an HNC/HND then it should be science based, unless you already have a relevant higher.

Education, Social Work and Nursing requirements

There are also some qualifications that you specifically need that are tied into registration with the relevant professional bodies. When you look for a course to study you should make sure that the one you choose includes all the relevant subjects.

  • Primary Education and Secondary Education - the General Teaching Council require anyone who wants to register as a Primary or Secondary School teacher in Scotland to have Maths at either National 5 (B), Standard Grade 1/2 or Intermediate 2 (C) pass and English Higher at B, or Communications 4 (Comms Higher) and Literature 1 which are college based modules. Open University modules in Maths and English at OU Level 1 would also count.

N.B. these qualifications are not included in the University's own access course so this might not be a suitable route for you if you want to become a teacher.

Degrees in these subjects also require work experience and knowledge of the profession.

  • Primary Education and Secondary Education - we look for significant relevant work experience with children under 12 years of age for Primary, or over 12 years of age for Secondary, including classroom based work. In addition if you are interested in the Early Years Primary specialism we would look for specific work experience with the Early Years age group of zero - eight years of age.

  • Social Work and Nursing - you should be able to show an awareness of the needs of someone in a vulnerable setting as well as an awareness of the relevant profession e.g. disability and/or mental health charities, old folks homes, community work. There are also some Maths and English requirements, and Science for Honours Nursing. Please check the course pages for more information, or get in touch.

How do I get into university?

There are a lot of different ways you can get into university; you just need to find the right one for you. If you already have some qualifications and want to know if they meet our entry requirements then get in touch and we can check them for you. If you don't have any qualifications, or don't think you have enough, there's a range of courses you can choose.

Highers / A Levels

You can study Highers and A Levels at your local college. Most of our entry requirements ask for a minimum of four Highers or three A Levels; Nursing requires three Highers. The specific entry requirements differ for each degree so you should look at our course pages or get in touch before committing yourself to a specific course.

If you have old Highers or A Levels we might be able to accept them, however we also look for applicants to have studied something recently. This is because studying is a learned skill and as time goes by you can forget how to do it. This means that even if you already have the entry requirements for a specific course you might want to do some form of studying, even if it's just a short course or online module, just to get back into the habit.

Approved Access course

Access courses are designed specifically for mature students who have few or no formal qualifications, and who've been out of formal education for some time. They provide both the academic qualifications to get into a degree and tailored support, guidance and study skills throughout the course to make sure you're ready for university.

The university accepts applications from a range of approved access programmes. Not all access courses are suitable for all our degrees so if you're not sure email our Recruitment Team, who can help you decide.

N.B. We don't currently accept NC courses on their own for entry to our degree courses. We will look at any highers included within an NC course.

Access to Degree Studies at the University of Stirling

The University has an Access to Degree Studies programme for mature students. There are three streams: -

  • Nursing
  • Science
  • General

N.B. This course might not be suitable for students who want to become Primary and Secondary teachers. Get in touch if you want to use our access course to get into our Education degrees. 

Scottish Wider Access Programme (SWAP)

SWAP is a consortium of colleges and universities across Scotland working together to provide dedicated access courses for mature students. SWAP courses are delivered in a range of Scotland’s colleges, and offer courses that lead on to a wide number of university degree programmes. The University of Stirling is a member of both SWAP East and SWAP West and we warmly welcome applications from SWAP students.

For more information about courses in your area, and to see where a SWAP course can lead you, please go to the SWAP website.

If you have found a course that you are interested in, and you want to check that it would be suitable for entry onto one of our degree courses, get in touch with the team by emailing

Other Scottish university access programmes

We accept a number of access courses run by other universities. Please contact our admissions team before deciding on a course to make sure we can accept it for your degree.

Ask a question

+44 (0) 1786 467044

Access courses in England, Wales and Northern Ireland

We accept Access to Degree Studies courses approved by the QAA. Courses need to have a minimum of 60 credits, with at least 45 credits at QCF Level 3. We ask students to get an average of 60% or above. Please get in touch with our admissions team before deciding on a course to make sure we can accept it for your degree.

Ask a question

+44 (0) 1786 467044

Higher National Certificate (HNC) / Higher National Diploma (HND)

We welcome applications from HNC and HND students for entry into year one of our degrees. Some HNC or HND courses might also get advanced entry into year two or year three of our degrees, depending on the course and the degree.

For more information, including advice on possible advanced entry routes, please go to our coming from college web pages.

Open University (OU)

We are happy to accept Open University credits. Typically we look for a minimum of 60 credits at OU Level 1 in a related subject. Please get in touch with our admissions team before deciding on a course to make sure we can accept it for your degree.

Ask a question

+44 (0) 1786 467044

How do I apply to university?

If you want to apply to one of our undergraduate degrees you must apply through UCAS (Universities and Colleges Admissions Service). If you're studying at college or on a university access course you should apply through them. The lecturers on your course will tell you how.

If you're applying on your own, go to our ‘How to Apply’ section for more information.

If you want to apply to our access course go to our Access to Degree Studies page.

Find out more

How do I find out about university?

Get in touch – it's as easy as that!

Meet the team

Our Student Recruitment Team are happy to advise mature students and their families/supporters. All contact is confidential and impartial and, with your permission, we'll help make the road into university easier. We'll put you in contact with the right people and make sure you get the support you need. 

+44 (0) 1786 467046

Come and see what it's like

We can arrange individual visits for you and a friend, adviser or family member to let you see the campus, find out more about what we offer, and answer any questions you have. You might want to find out more about a particular subject, get advice about your qualifications or find out what specific support you could receive.

You'll meet with one of the Student Recruitment Team, and if you like you can also book onto one of our campus tours which are led by our Student Ambassadors.

All you have to do is get in touch via email and we'll do the rest.

Open Days and Offer Holder Days

Open Days are a great way to find out more about everything to do with university life. A range of information desks are available where you can speak to University staff, academics, and current students. We have a dedicated information stand manned by our widening participation staff who can help you get the most out of the day.

If you've been made an offer then you'll be invited to an Offer Holder Day. These are really useful for you and your family and friends even if you live locally or have visited the University campus before. They give you time to ask staff and students about what it is like to study at Stirling and lets you find out all you need to know about the next steps in the application process.

If you're coming on your own to either of these events or are unsure of what to do on the day, get in touch once you've registered online and we'll make sure you get the most out of your visit. 

What support can I get?

Our friendly and welcoming team are your first point of contact for all kinds of support and they would be happy to talk to you at any time - even before you come to university.

Once you start studying at Stirling, Student Support Services can offer a range of services, including:

Finance - you should get in touch with our Money Advisers as soon as possible, even before you come to university. They'll help you to budget, manage your money and let you know about any additional sources of finance you could get.

Accessibility and Inclusion support - our advisers offer one-to-one information, support and guidance before you arrive and throughout your time at university to assess what you need and help you to access it.

Personal tutor - personal tutors help students feel part of the university community. They're your first point of contact for everything from academic guidance to personal advice throughout your studies.

Student Learning Services – the Student Learning Services team help students to enhance their study skills, build your confidence in academic work and support students’ success in learning and teaching.

STEER - our peer mentoring programme in run by The Students' Union and offers one-to-one support from a current student for your first year of study.

Students’ Union - the Union provides support and guidance on issues ranging from academic to housing to finance; provided by trained staff who are on hand to talk through any issues you may face whilst at university.

Where do I get help?

If you'd like to discuss your options, or talk through what it might be like to come to university, contact our Student Recruitment Team who can provide advice online or, if you would prefer, arrange a visit.


The Student Awards Agency in Scotland support Scottish students through their higher education journey. You can find more information on the SAAS website.

Students from outside of Scotland should talk to their finance provider in the first instance.

Get in touch

You probably have loads of questions about coming to university. Just get in touch – we’re here to help.

UK and Europe Student Recruitment
2C3, Cottrell Building, Stirling, FK9 4LA

+44 (0) 1786 467046

Financial support

There’s lots of financial support, scholarship opportunities and specific bursaries through SAAS specifically for widening access students.

Student Support Services

At the University of Stirling, we offer an extensive range of support services to help you fulfil your potential and make the most of your time studying with us. 

After you apply

Our team can support you right the way through to you starting at Stirling, so don’t hesitate to get in touch at any time. This information will help to guide you through the next steps after applying.