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Mature Students

Mature Students (those over the age of 21) account for an increasing proportion of home Student relaxing on wooden bench at Wantage Hallundergraduate students (1 in 10 students). These Mature Students form a very diverse group. The age range means that the younger Mature Student will be very little different from the standard-age student, whilst older students may have substantial life experience and family responsibilities. The reasons why Mature Students enter or return to higher education are also diverse and include a change in career, an updating of qualifications, development of a particular interest, a desire for intellectual stimulation and a chance to prove themselves.

Unlike some younger students, many Mature Students have taken positive (and often difficult) decisions to enter university. Their motivation and commitment to their studies is therefore usually very high.  

In general, Mature Students are more able to utilise support and welfare services than their younger colleagues, although lack of available time at the University may be a limiting factor. Common problems faced by Mature Students are listed below.

Timetabling

Mature Students often have complicated lives. Their time needs to be carefully organised. They may have responsibility for the care of children or other family members and sometimes travel long distances to attend their classes, use the Library, etc. The earlier that timetables can be published the easier such students will find it to make suitable arrangements for childcare and so on. Sudden changes to the timetable may be difficult to accommodate and sudden cancellation of classes or meetings will be particularly frustrating for these students.

Study practices

Mature Students are more anxious than their younger colleagues about their ability to cope academically. This is probably due to their having entered on their programmes after a break from full-time education, sometimes with non-standard qualifications or with a strong desire to be successful after earlier failure. Students coming from access courses are often very well prepared in study practices but may find that the relatively impersonal teaching approach of the University lacks the degree of feedback and reassurance that they have been used to. The Study Advisers run workshops on effective study practices and also produce a booklet specifically for Mature Students.

Isolation

Mature Students are less likely to be living in Halls and often spend less time on campus because of other commitments. They may feel that younger students will not wish to be friends with them. In particular, this can limit their access to the reassuring knowledge that other students may also be having difficulties with study. Networking with other Mature Students can build their confidence to interact with younger students in and out of their Departments. The Mature Students Representation Group organises regular events at which Mature Students can socialise and share their experiences. All Mature Students are automatically enrolled in the Group which communicates via Blackboard. It may also help any student who is feeling isolated to be put in touch with the Peer Supporters.

Childcare

Students with responsibility for children often worry about them. Good childcare is expensive and adds significantly to the financial sacrifices that must be made in order to return to full-time study. Children do not always settle well at nursery or with a child-minder and parents may feel very guilty about leaving their children in this way. When children are ill, parents will need to make their care a priority and this should be borne in mind when allowing extensions of deadlines etc.

The Students' Union runs a full-time nursery at Whiteknights, currently catering for children from three months to five years old. For further information contact the nursery on 0118 378 4128 (x4128) or visit the RUSU Nursery website.  

The Little Owl Pre-School is open to the children of all current students. There are 24 places each morning for children aged 2 1/2 to 5 years. The Little Owl Pre-School operates from 9.15am to 12 noon during school term times, and follows the curriculum of the Pre-School Learning Alliance of which it is a member. For further information please contact the Supervisor on +44 (0) 118 926 8988 or visit the The Little Owl Pre-School website.

There are several day nurseries and registered child-minders near the University. Full details are available from the Reading Children's Information Centre, 6 Queen's Walk, Reading, RG1 7PU, telephone 0118 950 9499 or see http://www.childrensinfo.org.

Emergency contacts for student-parents

Students who need to give their children's school or child-minder a telephone number in the University so that they can be contacted in an emergency, should contact their School secretary. They should leave a copy of their timetable with the secretary concerned, plus the name of the child, school and/or child-minder. They should, however, bear in mind that secretaries cannot undertake to be permanently available on the telephone, nor can there be any guarantee that a student can be found.

Parking permits

Daytime  parking permits for the campus are limited and are only issued to students who meet certain criteria. One of these is 'difficult personal circumstances', of which the student is required to provide evidence in writing. Many Mature Students may be eligible in this way and Tutors can help by writing in support of their application.

Personal difficulties

Mature Students often have more complicated lives and greater personal responsibilities than their younger counterparts. Returning to full-time study can be accompanied by a considerable upheaval and ongoing changes in personal relationships. Tutors can be helpful in being willing to talk these through with their tutees, and refer as necessary.

Social involvement at university

Mature Students can have difficulty in making social contacts within the University or participating in any activities or clubs and societies. This is particularly so if they live at a distance from Reading and have to arrive and leave promptly to fit in with child-care arrangements or if they are on programmes with relatively few Mature Students.

The Students' Union has a Mature Students' Representation Group which organises social events as well as representing the needs of Mature Students in the Union. Mature Students automatically become members of this group when they enrol. Some faculties organise regular social events for Mature Students and there are often informal networks advertised on student notice boards and meetings in student Common Rooms.

Careers, Placement and Experience Centre (CPEC)

Mature Students particularly benefit from advice and information early in their programme on future career possibilities following graduation. Career learning is embedded in all undergraduate programmes (usually in Part Two), can be especially valuable for these students.

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The Directory contains information about services and resources available to you and your tutees.

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