The coronavirus lockdown measures have ushered in numerous changes for populations around the world, including widespread job loss, a shift to remote work and professionals’ increased desire to upskill and reskill through online learning. As a result of these changes, the number of mature students at universities in the UK has been swiftly rising.
The influx of mature students interested in skill-building during lockdown may present a silver lining for the job market, as the career benefits begin to outweigh age-old fears surrounding the prospect of returning to higher education as a mature student.
Learn more about mature student benefits, common excuses that inhibit being a mature student and how you can further your education and career with a reputable online degree.
What is a Mature Student?
A mature student refers to anyone who attends university after the age of 21, from a 22-year-old student pursuing their undergrad after a gap year to a 52-year-old executive completing a DBA to propel their career as a business leader.
If you’re over the age of 21, you’re in good company. According to a report from the UK Parliament, in recent years 53 per cent of postgraduate entrants in the UK were classified as mature students. Mature students are lifelong learners that value the importance of their education and recognise the benefits of pursuing a degree, regardless of their age.
What Are the Benefits of Being a Mature Student?
Returning to higher education offers numerous mature student benefits and opportunities. Working professionals across various age groups, industries and countries of origin can benefit from upskilling and reskilling within a flexible online learning environment.
Gain Valuable Mentorship
Mature students return to higher education for a variety of reasons. Current and future executives seeking advanced knowledge in their fields often enrol in a Doctor of Business Administration (DBA). Aston University DBA graduate Dr John Blakey is an executive coach to CEOs, keynote speaker and best-selling author. The DBA programme allowed John to connect with Dr Ann Davis, an occupational psychology expert who was integral in helping John publish his influential book, “The Trusted Executive.”
Earn a Higher Salary
Mature students can boost their annual salary through a promotion or career change after obtaining a university degree. The latest official data released by the UK’s Department for Education determined mature students that invest time and money in higher education go on to earning more lucrative salaries. The data found that working-age graduates in England were earning a median salary of £34,000, while those who didn’t pursue further education saw a median wage of £24,000 per year.
Experience Flexibility and Self-Paced Learning
One of the benefits of returning to school as a mature student is having the ability to enrol in a highly flexible online learning environment. Mature students that plan on studying from home require self-paced learning — a learning style that allows students to complete coursework within their schedule.
Debbie Rangousis is a business development consultant and graduate from Aston University’s online MBA programme. When asked what she enjoyed most about her studying experience, she replied, “I loved being able to study and engage with fellow students and lecturers from the comfort of my home.” The flexibility to continue working full-time whilst learning immediately applicable skills for the workplace is a significant benefit for mature students enrolled in an online business programme.
Upskill and Reskill to Boost Your Career
Technological adoption and digitisation have widened the skills gap in UK organisations and led to reskilling trends, according to the management consultancy McKinsey & Company. They went on to say, “Without concerted action by employers, two-thirds of the UK workforce could lack basic digital skills by 2030, while more than ten million people could be underskilled in leadership, communication and decision making.”
Self-motivated mature students who take it upon themselves to upskill and reskill in a higher education programme are more appealing candidates for job promotions, new careers and leadership positions — now and in the future.
Excuses Mature Students Make About Returning to University
Working professionals over the age of 21 may question, “is it worth being a mature student?” Pursuing an online degree is an appealing option for mature students that want to experience the benefits of online learning but may trigger the following excuses:
“I can’t keep up with the new technology.”
Higher education and online learning use technology as an important tool that is designed to be accessible to everyone. Online education offers unparalleled and personalised support to help students navigate the virtual learning environment, from enrolment to graduation.
A recent study conducted in the UK found that mature students are just as confident and happy to use technology as younger students and the use of technology in the learning environment can, “develop students’ higher-level thinking by moving beyond simple memorisation and recall.” This insightful research points to the idea that technology doesn’t just facilitate online learning, but can enhance and improve the educational experience.
Aston University’s Virtual Learning Environment is an intuitive platform that offers students a series of video tutorials including a “Welcome, Module Overview & Getting Started,” “Meet Your Tutor and Module Support,” and “Further Materials and Tools.” Aston University pairs each student with a success advisor who is instrumental as they’re onboarded and becoming comfortable on the platform, continuing one-on-one and personalised support through graduation.
“I don’t have enough time.”
Balancing a full-time career, raising a family and fulfilling other daily responsibilities can feel overwhelming to busy adults interested in going back to school, however, becoming a mature student with a busy schedule is made possible in a flexible learning environment.
Louise O’Callaghan is a 37-year-old mature student, business professional, wife and mother to her eight-year-old daughter. Louise enrolled in Aston University’s MBA programme while working as the Project and Strategy Lead for a £25M project and raising a family. She stressed the importance of time management skills and prioritisation as integral to her success:
“I wanted to expand my business knowledge in order to move into more senior roles and the online opportunity enabled me to study whilst working full time and fitting studying around family life. It was extremely important to me that I didn’t have to be away from my family and that the course would be flexible enough to accommodate ‘normal life’.”
Mature students like Louise demonstrate that achieving work-life-school balance may be challenging, but it’s feasible for even the busiest individuals. Aston University offers features that make studying from home easy for mature students, including:
100 per cent online learning
Flexible study options designed for full-time professionals
Programme completion in as little as two years
Triple accreditation and worldwide recognition
“I won’t fit in with the other students.”
Going back to school as a mature student allows you to focus on networking with the most influential and inspiring peers, professors and mentors in your field.
Aston University student Ian Harford reflected on his experience going back to school as a 43-year-old entrepreneur interested in building new skills to further his established career:
“I’m proud to be part of the global Aston family and have already made many connections that will prove invaluable to my career and the future growth of my businesses. Embarking on the Aston Online MBA is not about individual learning, but engaging with other talented, visionary, inspirational people who are as committed to your learning experience as their own. It’s a truly rewarding experience that will help you to realise your full potential.”
Joining a passionate worldwide community is one of the most rewarding benefits of online learning. Your connections are no longer limited to the individuals in the physical classroom but extend across countries and continents to give you an internationally recognised education with limitless opportunities.
“I don’t know if this is a worthwhile investment.”
Mature students can use their degree to start their career, pivot to a different career or experience mobility in their existing job. According to a higher education report, in 2018, 91 per cent of responding graduates in the UK were starting or due to start work or further study 15 months after completing a university degree.
Mature students that look at the big picture realise that a university degree will increase their lifetime earning potential. New figures show that working-age graduates earned £10,000 more than non-graduates and see higher employment rates. This return on investment pays off throughout a graduate’s lifetime.
“I can’t afford to go back to school.”
Pursuing an education, whether that be an undergraduate, masters or DBA degree, can be affordable and financially feasible for mature students with the right financial support programme.
Aston University charges no application fee, promises competitive pricing and offers financial aid programmes to make higher education accessible for students. The UK Government recognises the value of continued education and offers funding for postgraduate study as an incentive for mature students to pursue their desired educational goals, including:
Postgraduate Master’s Loan
Postgraduate Doctoral Loan
Teacher training, social work, medical and healthcare courses
Charities and trusts
In addition to financial aid options, the increased lifetime earning potential associated with earning a degree helps justify the value of investing in relevant education.
Join Thousands of Mature Students on a Path to Higher Education
Aston's graduate business programmes are tailored to accommodate working professionals with busy schedules that want to upskill, earn promotions, experience career mobility and join an inspirational online community. Our online format allows students to enrol from any country in the world for optimal flexibility, convenience and global perspective.
The Aston University community boasts over 90,000 international alumni who present mentorship, networking opportunities and entrance to a far-reaching business worldview.
Aston offers the following online degrees:
Build a global network of business professionals through team engagement and networking events and gain hands-on business experience by solving complex problems in areas of leadership, management, strategy and analytics. As a mature student, you will learn how to collaborate with stakeholders from diverse cultural settings and collaborate with business leaders across international markets.
Aston has earned triple accreditation from AACSB, EQUIS and AMBA the leading accreditation bodies for business schools in the UK, the US and Europe. Stand out as a business leader by earning a degree from Aston, a leading university that is among the elite one per cent of business schools worldwide with triple accreditation.
Discover how higher education benefits mature students and offer a generous return on investment. Take the next step toward your Aston University graduate degree.