Mature students are undergraduates aged over 21 years or postgraduate over 25 years. There may also be students who identify as mature because of experiencing significant life experiences at a younger age.
As a committee, there are some actions you can take to ensure students of all ages feel welcome at your club or society;
BE WELCOMING – for some undergraduate mature students, coming to university can be an isolating experience. They may be the only mature student on their course and commuting to university which reduces the time they have to meet other students. It is important you break the ice and make the first move to introduce yourself to make everyone feel welcomed.
DO NOT IGNORE – some mature students sometimes feel they are too old to join a club or society. Their first encounter may be through the clubs and Soc fayres during welcome week. There are multiple examples of where a mature student has gone to a stall or an event and been asked to prove they are a student or even worst, they have been completely ignored as people have assumed they are a member of staff. If someone shows an interest in your club or society, please be as welcoming as you would normally.
VARIETY OF EVENTS – not all students want to go to events where the focus is drinking or clubbing (this isn’t to say that some mature students don’t want to do this). Make sure you put on a variety of events, including non-alcohol focused socials and utilise the A Night to Remember campaign to support you with planning this. It is important to do a mixture of online and in-person events as online events allow for more flexibility for parents/carers as they do not need to find childcare/care for the event. Please follow the SU events guidelines for in-person events this academic year. You could offer some opportunities for parent/carers to bring the person they look after to an event. Lastly, it is important to give details for events in good time to allow mature students to plan for getting to and from the activity etc.
AVOID ASSUMPTIONS – mature students are not that different to the wider student population. All students come to UEA for the same reasons and experience similar issues such as high and lows on courses and in general life. Being able to feel included within the whole university is important for everyone, not just the majority.
PROMOTION – the messages you have on your webpage and social media are important at reducing any fears mature students may be feeling about joining or going along to a taster. If you are taking steps towards making all students feel welcomed, then include this as part of your promotion. A simple note such as ‘We do our best to make students of all ages feel welcomed at our student group and we are happy to talk to you more about this’, can have a massive impact for students who are worried about their age preventing them from joining.
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