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Undergraduate Study


Mature student support

What is a mature student?

If you'll be aged 21 or over by 1 October in the year in which you hope to come to Cambridge and haven't already completed a higher education course then you'll be applying as a mature student.

The University welcomes mature students who want to commit to a full-time course with the same demands, opportunities and facilities that our school-leaving students experience. The rewards of studying for an undergraduate degree may be personal or professional or both.

Cambridge is a collegiate university, meaning that students are based in Colleges for day-to-day living and go to the University’s academic faculties/departments for lectures, practical’s etc.

At Cambridge, all undergraduate students belonging to one of 29 Colleges. All Cambridge Colleges admit mature students, but there are four that only take mature or graduate students:

  • Hughes Hall
  • Lucy Cavendish College (women only)
  • St Edmund’s College
  • Wolfson College

Mature students can apply to any of the undergraduate Colleges, though most choose one of these ‘mature’ Colleges, where they’ll be living with other students who also have a bit more life experience and aren’t straight out of school. This is a great support for anyone returning to education.

The social life in a mature College is a rich mix and it takes account of partners and families. At the same time, there are plenty of opportunities to meet the standard-age students in lectures and practicals and through the University’s clubs and societies.

The role of the Colleges and College profiles are detailed in our Colleges section, along with advice on things to consider when choosing a College. Mature students who choose to make an open application are allocated to one of the mature Colleges.


The personal teaching and support available within the Cambridge Colleges is the most distinctive feature of the collegiate system.

  • Colleges provide educational and pastoral support – all students are assigned a Director of Studies (DoS) to oversee their academic progression and welfare, and they also have access to a Tutor who can provide pastoral support and advise on personal and financial matters.
  • Support is also available from other members of College staff, such as nurses, chaplains and/or counsellors; as well as from other students (eg peers and the Welfare Officer/Team from the College Students’ Union).
  • In addition, the University offers a range of specialist support services.

Financial support

Details of the costs involved in going to university and the support available for UK and EU students can be found on our Fees and finance pages. In particular you will find information about:

  • the Cambridge Bursary Scheme, which offers non-repayable Bursaries of up to £5,600 per year (for 2015-16) for some UK mature students to help with living costs
  • government support, such as the Maintenance Grant for living costs and student loans
  • additional support for those with particular circumstances/needs, such as those with dependants

Information about financial support for students from outside the EU (including Islands students, from the Channel Islands and Isle of Man) can be found on the International financial support.

Student parents

For students with children, the University’s Childcare Information Advisers can offer guidance on childcare, and some Colleges are able to provide family accommodation. More information for student parents can be found on the Student parents page.

Preparing for Cambridge

The mature Colleges run a 'PREP course' for mature students who have successfully secured a place at Hughes Hall, Lucy Cavendish College, St Edmund's College or Wolfson College. Aimed at those returning to study, the course provides an opportunity to develop study skills and covers practical issues such using academic facilities and resources. If eligible, your College will invite you to attend the PREP course.

Contact Us

For further information and advice on being a mature student at Cambridge, please contact:

Samantha Massey
Widening Participation Project Coordinator
T 01223 333315