Mature students
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Entry requirements

All applicants are expected to meet the University’s minimum entry requirements for the degree programme they are applying to, and to demonstrate through recent academic study that they are ready to study at degree level.

However, we know that many adult learners will have had a break in their formal education and will be returning to education with a very different academic profile to school or college leavers. We consider these students to be adult returners.

An adult returner is someone who had a break of at least three years in their formal education, and who has not yet achieved a degree. An adult returner may be under the age of 21 and so will not necessarily be defined as a “mature student”.

We know that if you are returning to education, you may have qualifications which are not listed amongst our standard entry requirements. If you are an adult returner, we can accept a range of alternative qualifications in place of standard entry qualifications, such as:

We also accept the City and Guilds Level 5 Diploma in Leadership and Management as equivalent to one A level.

If your qualifications are not listed here, you should contact the appropriate College admissions office to discuss whether we can accept your qualifications.

Admissions offices

Further information about arrangements for adult returners can be found in our Adult Returners Policy:

Previous undergraduate degree

Some adult learners may have already achieved an undergraduate degree. While this does not prevent you from applying to the University, you should be aware that where competition is high, preference will be given to students who have not had a previous opportunity to study at degree level. You may wish to discuss this with the appropriate College admissions office prior to making an application.

Recognition of Prior Learning

In some cases, we may be able to consider professional qualifications or work experience to meet part of your entry qualifications, for example as evidence that you meet subject specific entry requirements. If you think that this could apply to you, you must speak to the relevant admissions office before submitting an application.

Further information can be found in our policy on Recognition of Prior Learning in Admissions:

Recent study

We need to make sure that students are properly prepared for university-level study, otherwise there is a risk that they will struggle to succeed on their chosen degree programme. We therefore look for evidence of recent study, which usually means within three years of the start of your degree.

There are a few exceptions for courses involving Mathematics where we require your Mathematics entry qualification to have been achieved within two years. You can find a list of these exceptions on the “Understanding our entry requirements” page of our website:

Understanding our entry requirements


The University of Edinburgh has no formal articulation arrangements with guaranteed progression from an HNC or HND programme in college to a degree programme at the University. However, the University does accept some HNC and HND qualifications for entry to some specific degree programmes, and entry with advanced standing to Year 2 of the degree is possible for students who have achieved high grades in their HN qualifications. Further information is available on the College websites:

Arts, Humanities and Social Science:

Adult returner applicants

Science and Engineering:

Mature applicants