We're proud to welcome students from all backgrounds. If you're planning to start your studies aged over 21, you're classed as a mature student. Here's some information and advice to help you as you prepare for your new journey.

Our student community

The great news is, there are lots of other mature students here at Derby. Almost half of our UK-based first year students are over 21. So whether you are making time to pursue a passion, are changing career, or are returning to study after a break, you'll find people like you who can share your experiences. And there's plenty of support in place for you, from the moment you start thinking about your course until you graduate, and beyond. 


How you apply depends on the level you intend to study. For a first degree (or bachelors), most students apply via UCAS, which operates a centralised application process for all British universities. There may also be options for you to apply direct.

For postgraduate degrees (if you already hold a relevant undergraduate degree), you can often apply direct to the university where you want to study. There are some exceptions - for postgraduate teaching qualifications such as PGCEs, for example, you need to apply through UCAS.

However you apply, you're likely to need to provide a personal statement, which sets out why you want to study your chosen course and introduces you to the Admissions team at the university. As a mature student you are likely to be in a good position to write this, as you may be able to draw on experience you have gained since you left full-time education.

Entry requirements

If you've been out of education for a while, you might have some questions about your qualifications. When reviewing applications we look at more than just your grades, and consider any relevant employment or other experience you can offer. 

We also offer a variety of entry levels for undergraduate study, including degrees with an extra foundation year to help you build the skills and confidence you need. If you haven't completed any formal qualifications beyond GCSEs or Functional Skills Level 2, an Access to Higher Education Diploma course might be for you.


A good way to find out more about us is to come to an Open Day. You'll be able to look around, meet our current students, teaching and support staff, and ask questions about anything that's on your mind - whether that's qualifications, study hours, childcare or something else. Check our Open Days page for details of upcoming events and how to book.

Helen Simpkin

Going to University has been the best decision for me and has changed me and my life forever. Derby is a brilliant university with so much to offer.

Helen Simpkin
BSc (Hons) Counselling and Psychotherapy Principles and Practices

Returning to study

There's lots of support to help you adjust to life as a student. Remember, everyone is new at the start, even if they have come through a different route to you. 

You'll have a Personal Academic Tutor who is there to guide you through your studies and ensure you stay on track. And if you need support to develop your study skills, the Library runs a range of workshops on topics including academic writing and referencing.

Our Student Wellbeing team offers a range of support, some of which is available before you start your studies. Find out what's on offer.

Student life

As a mature student you may have some worries about how you'll fit in. One of the great things about university is the chance to make new friends and meet people from a range of different backgrounds. Give yourself time and take advantage of the opportunities to get to know people:


Depending on your circumstances, you might be thinking about living in university accommodation. We reserve blocks in our halls of residence for mature and returning students. Living in halls can be a great way to make friends and get involved in university life, but if it's not for you, you could consider a university-approved house or flat.

Our city

If you're planning to relocate to Derby for your studies, you'll find it's in a great central location. It's easy to get to from most parts of the country - trains to central London take about 90 minutes, for example. The city centre is compact, and there's a good range of bars, restaurants and entertainment venues. It's also close to lovely countryside in the Peak District National Park, and there are several beautiful parks near the University. Discover more about our city and countryside.


If you have children under 15, or under 17 if they have special educational needs, you may be eligible for a childcare grant covering up to 85% of your costs. This is on top of your other student finance, and doesn't have to be paid back. You can find out more on the government's website

We provide a room for mothers who need to breastfeed on campus, and there's a parent and child space in the library. Find out more about support for students who are parents.

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