Advice and guidance for mature students

Can I go to university?

Many adults feel that higher education is not for them. You may feel that you are too old, you don’t have the qualifications, or it is just not for you.

What you may not realise is that you have a wealth of valuable life and work experience that universities appreciate. We are happy to help anyone who is interested at studying at university whatever your age and background. We can help with advice on the qualifications you need to get into a degree, what support you would be entitled to, how to apply - basically almost anything that you might need to know about coming to university. All you have to do is ask.

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 do not have any qualifications, or don't think you have enough, there is a range of courses you could study. We have listed some of your options below.



Highers / A Levels

You can study Highers and A Levels at a number of local colleges. 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 already have Highers or A Levels we might be able to accept them, however we do look for applicants to have studied something recently. This is because studying is a learned skill and as time goes by we 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 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 are not sure get in touch with our Widening Participation Manager, Tracey Kerr, who can help you decide.

N.B. Please note we do not 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 - University of Stirling

The university runs its' own 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 youwant 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. To find out more about courses in your area please go to

Other Scottish university access programmes

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

Access courses in England, Wales and Northern Ireland 

We accept Access to Degree Studies courses approved by the QAA. Courses should be 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.


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

We welcome applications from HNC and HND student for entry into year 1 of our degree programmes. For more information, including advice on possible advanced entry routes, please go to our Coming from college pages.

Open University

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.

How do I apply?

If you want to apply to one of our undergraduate degrees you must apply through UCAS (Universities and Colleges Admissions Service). If you are 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 are applying on your own you can use our ‘How to Apply’ section for more information.

If you want to apply to our access course use the link on the course page.

Where do I get help? 

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

If you can't make it on to campus our Widening Participation Manager, Tracey Kerr, is happy to talk to you about what it is like to be a mature student and help you decide on the right route for you. Get in touch and Tracey will give you advice online, or can meet with you face-to-face if you need to.

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