mature student with laptop

Advice and guidance
for 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 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. At the University of Stirling this would mainly be the case for our Science subjects. Our Education, Social Work and Nursing degrees also have specific requirements.

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.
Students in a sports lab

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. Please note 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. The university is a member of both SWAP East and SWAP West and we warmly welcome applications from SWAP students.

Watch SWAPS video on why SWAP could be your route into Higher Education.

To find out more about courses in your area please go to the SWAP website.

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.

Where do I get help?

We encourage everyone to come and see us to find out more about the University and our degrees. Check out our visit us pages to find out about your options.

If you can't make it on to campus our Recruitment Team are happy to talk to you about what it's like to be a mature student and help you decide on the right route for you. Get in touch and we'll give you advice online, or can meet with you face-to-face if you need to.

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

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