Mature students

At Sheffield Hallam we are proud to have a large and diverse community of mature students. We understand that, while every student’s experience will be unique, there are some things which are common to those who re-enter education later in life. You may have particular worries or doubts about returning to education, the impact of this on your life or finances and how to balance everything to ensure you succeed at University alongside other commitments.


Case Studies

Brodie Fenner, aged 28, Occupational Therapy student

“I went to Cardiff University at the age of 19 to do a degree in psychology but I didn’t really have a long term career plan – I just knew I was interested in the subject. When I finished university I had a couple of ideas about what I wanted to do but nothing certain so I worked in a restaurant. Eventually I got a job at Sheffield College and then Weston Park Cancer Charity. After that I worked with disabled students at Sheffield Hallam. Whilst working here, I really enjoyed putting support in place for students. During that time I was working alongside an Occupational Therapist (OT) who opened my eyes to what’s involved in the work of an OT, providing support to enable people to fully participate in everyday life. I looked at a variety of different OT courses at different universities. I researched the support available to students, the content of the courses and the teaching quality. Sheffield Hallam University really stood out for me as being a high standard in all of these areas.

When I started the course I’d not studied at university for about six or seven years and I was worried that I’d find it really hard to get back into academic study. I also have epilepsy so I was worried about how my epilepsy might impact on my ability to study. I also suspected that I might have a specific learning difficulty so I had a psychological assessment (which was paid for by Sheffield Hallam as I was a prospective student) and found that I have dyslexia and dyspraxia. It was a relief to find this out and to find that there was support available to enable me to participate in the course effectively.

Going back to university as a mature student was great as I didn’t have to go to work every day (!) and I really appreciated the student life – much more than I did when I was an undergraduate student! I also really enjoyed challenging my brain and thinking in different ways. On my course the majority of people are around the same age as me but you don’t really notice the variation in age range as everyone gets on well. Some people on my course have families and seem to manage fine – in fact they manage better than I do and I don’t have any kids! We do a lot of social things together and I’ve made a lot of friends there. Making friends wasn’t something I was worried about as I already have a lot of friends in Sheffield but it has been an added bonus!

My advice to other mature students is to find out exactly what support is on offer and what student services are available. If you have a disability, don’t feel awkward about coming and getting support as it will be really valuable and there’s a lot of support available that you might not know about. I would also say to engage with the social side of the course because it’s a really good opportunity to get to know everybody and build support networks.”


Case study – Jamie Shaw, English and History student

Jamie Shaw, who works in Student Support Services at SHU, shares his story of returning to education and his journey as a mature student…

“I had a very negative experience at school in Sheffield the early 80′s, which led to me leaving school with very few qualifications, and very few options of what do afterwards.

I opted to join a Youth Training Scheme which introduced me to the world of retail, and for the next 18 years I remained in various jobs with various companies performing similar roles; retail sales, call centres, advertising sales etc., none of which I found satisfying or that made me happy.

Whilst working for an insurance company in my mid-thirties in yet another entry-level role, I decided that I had to take charge of my future and find a career I found interesting and that motivated me. I took the decision to return to education as a means to achieve my goal.

Working full-time and attending college on an access course in the evenings was pretty difficult and took a lot of commitment, but I eventually got the credits I needed together with my Maths GCSE, something that had eluded me at school.

I started at SHU in 2005 as a full-time English and History BA (Hons) student. With the support of my peers, tutors and course administration team I found the experience fantastically rewarding and extremely positive. The funding aspects of the course were a lot simpler and straightforward than I thought it would be, and the nature of the course allowed me to work part time as well.

I graduated with a 2.1 level degree and, as importantly, a new-found belief and confidence in my capabilities which led to me successfully applying to work in Student Services at SHU, where I am now.

My advice to other mature students is to make yourself aware of the support that is available at the university. You can call in and see a student advisor from the Advice & Information Team who will be able to answer your questions and signpost you to the most relevant support team. You will be amazed at the amount of help that is on offer. You have made it to university; make sure you make the most of it whilst you are here!.”



Useful Resources

Here are some links and resources you might find useful throughout your time with us.


Take a look at our top tips for managing your money as a mature student, which you can view and download by clicking on the image below.

Managing your money as a mature student_cover

You can also get advice from our Student Funding team. You can get in touch by calling 0114 225 2222 or by visiting any Hallam Help point.


The Students’ Union Advice Centre can also help if you have money concerns or questions.

You can also learn how to manage your money with Blackbullion Online. This easy to use resource will empower you to be money smarter and make sound financial decisions. 89% of the students who use it feel more confident about their financial future.

Support for mature students

General support / resources

Useful websites

Feel like getting in touch?

You can contact a Hallam Help Point. You can contact us whatever your question – no matter how big or small!