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Being a Mature Student – FAQ’s

Q In Ireland how does Adult education work?

A: Firstly define an ‘adult’ student. Anyone who is 18 years of age is technically an adult.  Usually when we use the phrase ‘adult education’, we tend to mean adults who have left school for some time, who are returning to education either part-time or full-time.

The term ‘mature’ student has a specific significance in terms of selection for third-level courses. To be eligible for entry as ‘mature’ students, applicants must be 23 years of age by January of the proposed year of entry.

Q How much does it cost for a mature student or is it free?

A;  The Department of Education and Science pays the tuition fees to many approved colleges on behalf of all first time undergraduate students attending full-time courses. The places are available to those who hold EU or Official Refugee status, and who have been ordinarily resident in an EU member state for at least three of the five years before entering the course. Mature students are covered under this scheme, provided they meet these conditions.

Mature students are entitled to maintenance grants on the same basis as other third-level students. Grants are based on family income limits, and on whether or not the student must live away from home to attend college or is living at home. It is generally recognised that grants are not really sufficient to live on and therefore another source of income is needed in the form of part time employment or support from your parents.

Q What is the % of Mature students entering college this year?

A: Around 10pc of new students to college are “mature students’. In the last few years applicants to CAO from mature students have risen slightly.

Q Is it very competitive for mature applicant places?

A: Mature students are usually selected on a basis of criteria, not on their Leaving Cert results. There is usually a quota of places  kept for them. Competition is keen for all applicants (whether standard or mature) in many of the courses, but there are many courses which are easier to get into as a mature student.

Q Where can mature applicants find more information about opportunities?

A: Mature students can get a general overview of their opportunities on, where they will find a number of sites devoted to mature entry. They can access on this site the Mature Students Directory of Irish Third-Level Institutions, which is published by the Network of Irish Mature Student Officers.

The Adult Educational Guidance Initiative offers guidance, information and advice to three main target groups — VTOS, Literacy and Adult community education. Guidance is provided both in group settings and in one-to-one sessions with clients in 41 centres nationwide.


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