Welcome to the Mature Learners page, which is here to provide you with all the information you will need if you’re thinking of returning to study.

There are many flexible learning options available, so whether you want to find out what qualifications you can study, what support is available or how you can finance your studies, this information and much more is easily accessible from this page.

If you’re a mature learner considering returning to education, or a practitioner supporting mature students, please feel free to Contact Us for tailored advice.

University of Chester Foundation Years

If you have taken a break from formal education, or do not have the traditional qualifications for degree study then a Foundation Year could be the route for you.

The University of Chester offers four-year undergraduate degrees that include a Foundation Year in a range of subject areas. The Foundation Year is signed to equip you with subject specific knowledge and the confidence and skills to be successful in your degree. Foundation Year students are part of a vibrant student community and benefit from being taught in a department with academics who solely teach on Foundation Years. You can see the Foundation Year options at the University of Chester here and hear more about student experiences of a Foundation Year here.

Some of the comments our students have said about their Foundation Year experience include:

“I am a mature student, and the Foundation Year helped me feel at home”
“If I can study after 10 years break, anybody can do it”

If you would like to discuss your qualifications and find out if the Foundation Year at the University of Chester could be the route for you, please contact Vicki Riley, Mature Student Advisor, via email at v.riley@chester.ac.uk.

7 things to consider



Choosing to return to education as a mature student (aged 21 and up) is a big decision to make. There will be many things for you to weigh up, some that are universal to all mature students and some that will be specific to you. This blog posts goes through the main things you might need to consider.  If you’d like some individual support with or advice on your decisions, please feel free to contact us.

Applying to university



For students considering a return to education, or applying to university, the process of completing your application can be confusing or overwhelming. Our guide to applying covers all the main areas, including research, timelines and UCAS.

Fast Track



Fastrack is Edge Hill University’s free seven-week preparation for Higher Education programme for adults. It is designed to enhance your subject knowledge and take the fear out of academic study with training in essential skills such as note-taking, essay writing, exam techniques, and an introduction to IT. Successful completion of the programme will enable you to be considered for a place on a degree at Edge Hill in one of the Fastrack subjects. Click the thumbnail in the top right to see a video introducing you to Fastrack.

COLC Access to HE Diploma



Laura Rowan, Head of School of Access to Higher Education at the City of Liverpool College talks through the pre-access and access offering at the College, the different academic pathways and student support available, and how the qualification works in practice.

Access to Higher Education Diploma

This short video explains the Access to Higher Education Diploma offered at the City of Liverpool College. Staff from Ascentis, the awarding body, and the City of Liverpool College talk through the benefits of the qualification and how positive it can be for students.

Access to HE Diploma FAQs




An Access to Higher Education Diploma, typically offered by Further Education colleges, can be a fantastic way for learners who have had a break from education to prepare and qualify for Higher Education. This short FAQ goes over the main points you need to know about the Diploma. Access to HE Diplomas are offered by a number of our partner colleges, including the City of Liverpool College, Hugh Baird, Riverside College, University Centre St Helens and Wirral Met.

Live Chat

Sometimes, it’s helpful to speak to
someone who’s previously been in
your position. Shaping Futures, as
well as some of our partner institutions,
offer a live chat function on our website,
where you can speak to current students
and find out more about their experience.

Dan, Jessica and Emma would love to
chat with you and answer any of your questions.

Pippa’s Story


Pippa has previously studied Fashion at a university in London, before taking a break from education. She then returned to education to pursue her career goals of influencing health and social care policy, discovering Liverpool Hope University, and embracing all elements of student life.

Esther’s Story



Esther Silva, a former Access to HE student, talks through her journey from Access Course to Cambridge. After a period of illness derailed her initial plans to study, an Access to HE “completely transformed her life”.

Access to HE Case Study

Student Support


All education institutions offer great support while you are studying with them, in areas such as:

  • Disability and Inclusion
  • Wellbeing and Mental Health
  • Financial Hardship Support
  • Volunteering and Mentoring
  • Counselling Service
  • Care Leavers and Young Adult Carers’ Support
  • Mature Student Support

You can visit an institutions website to find out more about specific support they can offer you during your studies and you can view our Student Support Glossary if you’d like to know more about how the different teams might support you.

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