mature students

Returning to study after a break, be it short or long, may feel daunting, but it’s do-able! You may be thinking of applying to return to study, or already have accepted an offer to study at UEA – either way you have lots of planning to do. This page sets out information which you will find useful when planning to study at UEA and beyond

If you haven’t yet applied, take a look at this guide from UCAS on applying as a mature student here

You may be full of plans to throw yourself into every aspect of university life, or you may be planning to fit your studies around the demands of career, family or both and not expecting to have a lot of time for extras. Either way, extracurricular activities can enhance your wellbeing and your CV, so make the most of what’s available.

For starters, look at the uea(su) buddy scheme, whereas a new student you will be matched with a current student who knows their way about and has extra training to help you settle in. Follow this link for more info.

All su clubs and societies are open to all students, so try not to miss the Opportunities Fayre to find out the full ranges but if you are looking specifically for daytime activities or activities targeted at over 21s, we’d recommend checking out events organised by postgraduate(su). Current activities include yoga, 5 a side football, open mic nights and a weekly quiz.

As a mature student, you are entitled to make use of postgraduate facilities such as the Scholars Bar and kitchen. You’ll need to] request swipe card access. To do this, email union.postgrads@uea.ac.uk with your age, UEA username (abc12xyz), and ask for access  or just come and talk to su reception upstairs in Union house

If you’d like to influence SU policy or work for change within UEA, get involved in the Mature Students Assembly which is an open forum for all mature students to discuss issues affecting them, organise campaigns and activities, and write policy. The assembly elects members to Union Council, the body which makes union policy.  Follow this link for more info.

 
sorting out the money

Before you start, you need to make sure you have plans in place to cover both your fees and living expenses.

  • Any UK student can apply for a fee loan to cover their tuition fees and help towards their living costs for a first undergraduate degree. If you are over 60, the maintenance loan may be reduced. If you have previously studied in higher education, even if you did not complete the course or get a qualification, your eligibility to take out a loan may be reduced. The basic rule for fee loan entitlement for students with previous study is :

Length of new course + one additional year – years of previous study = the number of years the student can get funding

For more info see: https://www.gov.uk/mature-student-university-funding

A full-time undergraduate student may be able to get additional grant funding if they have an adult dependant such as a spouse, civil partner or other relatives.  Check https://www.gov.uk/adult-dependants-grant for details.  You may also be able to transfer some of your personal tax allowances to your husband, wife or civil partner if your income for the year is below the maximum personal allowance or the year - https://www.gov.uk/marriage-allowance.  

  • If you have a learning difficulty such as dyslexia, a health problem or disability you may be able to get Disabled Students Allowance which provides help to pay for extra things you may need: https://www.gov.uk/disabled-students-allowances-dsas/eligibility . You can apply via your student finance account. Student Support Services can help you with this.
  • It’s important to budget for what will possibly be a big drop in income. If you already claim benefits, some of these may continue whether or not you are a student. Benefits which will always continue include PIP and child benefit. If you claim JSA or ESA you may have to switch to Universal Credit (UC) because of your change of circumstances. If you need to make a new claim, you will now need to claim UC https://www.gov.uk/guidance/universal-credit-full-service-and-live-service   
  • Entitlement to UC will depend on your income and availability for work. Your student loan will count as income for UC calculations and will be fully taken into account. The main situations where you can get UC as a student are if you:
    1. already get Disability Living Allowance or PIP and have been assessed as having limited capability for work. If you have previously been assessed as having limited capability for work/work related activities for ESA, you may not need a new Work Capability Assessment (WCA) for UC. See below for getting a WCA if you have not already had one
    2. are a part-time student and can meet the work availability requirement
    3. are responsible for a child or young person or are a single foster parent
    4. have reached the qualifying age for pension credit and have a partner who does not qualify for pension credit
    5. have a partner who is not a student who can claim
    6. over the summer period when you are not receiving student loan and you fit into one of categories 1-5 above, but you will have to be available for work over the summer

Some other benefits including carer’s and attendance allowances, pensions and, local council tax reduction will continue alongside UC. To check for a full list see https://www.turn2us.org.uk/Benefit-guides/Universal-Credit/Which-benefits-will-Universal-Credit-replace   

  • There are currently problems with getting a WCA for students as some DWP decision makers are refusing to carry out a new WCA for student UC claims. Two possible suggestions which have been made are to apply for UC and request that a decision is not made until a WCA is done, or apply for new ESA , even if you don’t have enough NI contributions to get any payment https://www.gov.uk/guidance/new-style-employment-and-support-allowance . We can help you to find specialist advice to try and get a WCA so that you can apply for UC if you have a disability.
  • If you are a full-time student, we recommend that you don’t do more than 16 hours’ paid work per week during term time. More would be likely to have too big an impact on your studies. 
  • If the student loan won’t be enough to cover your living expenses investigate whether you can study your course part-time, so that you can work more hours.  If you are currently in work, consider making a flexible work request to reduce your hours while you are studying. (https://www.gov.uk/flexible-working). UEA does not currently provide distance learning options for most courses and university regulations state that where you live should not have a negative impact on your ability to study, so factor that in when you are making your plans
  • Make the most of your money by taking full advantage of available discounts. As a student you can apply for a Totum student discount card (https://cards.totum.com/join )  Do you qualify for a railcard? These are available for 3 age groups 16-25, 26- 30–(https://www.26-30railcard.co.uk/)  and over 60.  
  • When planning your budget make sure you factor in study costs such as books and field trips. Check with your school whether there any compulsory trips associated with modules you plan to take. If you plan ahead you may be able to apply for a grant to help with the cost. Try https://grants-search.turn2us.org.uk  to search for grants.
  • If you are doing a course involving placements, check where those might be and have travel plans in place. You may also need to make different childcare arrangements for placements.
  • Childcare costs can be a significant factor. See our page for student parents for useful information on what help you can get. https://www.uea.su/advice-housing/studentparents

 

 
sorting out where to live

Many mature students choose to commute from home. Parking on campus is not available for most students, and space is at a premium, so the UEA encourages using public transport. If there is no reliable bus or train service from your area, the UEA recommends the Park and Ride bus service  https://portal.uea.ac.uk/estates/travel-and-transport/public-transport/park-and-ride

If you would like to live in halls, you can apply in the normal way via the UEA Accommodation office https://portal.uea.ac.uk/accommodation . There are a limited number of family and small units (for 2) available through the accommodation office, but most flats are for 6-12 people. The accommodation office will normally try to place mature students with other mature students or postgraduates, so make your preferences known to them when you apply.

If you are looking for privately rented accommodation within Norwich, the student union has its own register of approved student accommodation (“Home Run”). This can be a very good way of finding a room in a shared house. You can contact them by emailing homerun@uea.ac.uk, calling 01603 592505/593230 or visiting the Advice and Housing office in Union House. Another place to look for a room in a shared house (or offer one) is The Official uea(su) Housing Group on Facebook. This is a closed group for UEA students. If you are looking for family accommodation, it’s likely to be better to look online using Rightmove or Zoopla. You can also contact Home Run by email and ask them for a list of individual letting agents who you can contact.

 
getting ready to study

Most students find there’s a step change between study at school/college and university level study, and this may be more noticeable if you’ve had long break from study. It’s a good idea, if you can, to do some preparatory work. Here are some useful options:

 

 
help with study

  • One of your first ports of call for any academic query can be your academic adviser. You will get an invitation to meet them soon after you arrive at UEA and you will be offered meetings throughout the year. You usually keep the same adviser for the whole of your course, but you can request a change if you wish. As well as being there to discuss your academic progress, you can take personal issues to your adviser, and this can be particularly helpful where you feel that your ability to study is affected by external factors. For more information about the role of your adviser and how they can help you see https://portal.uea.ac.uk/learning-and-teaching/students/the-basics/advisers
  • UEA student support services offer free learning support and advice to all registered UEA students on a wide range of study skills, including academic writing, use of English, and maths and statistics needed for your course.

https://portal.uea.ac.uk/student-support-service/learning-enhancement

https://portal.uea.ac.uk/student-support-service/learning-enhancement/study-resources/academic-writing-study-skills

  • Student Support Services also provide support for students with disabilities, including learning disabilities.  They can provide help with ensuring that reasonable adjustments are put in place for students who have a disability. If you think you may have a learning disability such as dyslexia or dyspraxia, Student Support Services can carry out initial screening and arrange for full screening to be put in place https://portal.uea.ac.uk/student-support-service/wellbeing/disability

 

 
 
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