Mature Student Guide
Welcome to DCU
So, you are interested in studying for a third level qualification? Perhaps you are motivated by the chance to embark on a new career or to progress further your existing career. Maybe you wish to fulfil a long-held ambition of obtaining a university degree or simply have a desire to learn more about a discipline that interests you. Whatever your motivation, DCU aims to support you, as a mature student, in achieving your goals.
Dublin City University is Ireland’s youngest, most forward-looking university.
DCU has an active mature student body, with more than 700 mature students
studying across our full range of programmes in the areas of business, humanities and social sciences, engineering and computing, and science and health.
DCU recognises that mature students have a wealth of knowledge and experience with which they make a valuable contribution to student life. Mature students add enormously to campus life and make a significant contribution towards the learning experience of all students. Many perform well above the average in their studies as they are highly motivated and can draw effectively on their accumulated learning and life experience to date.
At DCU we work in partnership with students to enable them to reach their full potential. We concentrate on giving our students a rounded university experience that combines excellent tuition with a strong emphasis on practical work, along with an environment that supports students throughout their university experience. Mature students in particular benefit from the excellent support network that includes dedicated workshops, orientation and guidance.
We are dedicated to the promotion of lifelong learning and are continually working towards wider entry route in order to increase the opportunities available to adult learners.
As you embark on a new learning adventure, I wish you the very best in realising your educational and career goals, and I look forward to meeting with you at Dublin City university.
STUDYING AS A MATURE STUDENT IN DCU
What is a “mature student”?
To be considered as a mature student, you must be aged 23 years, or above, ston or before 1 January in the year of entry. Mature applicants are assessed on lifelong learning to date, which can consist of studies, work experience, personal interests, or any other relevant experience.
Non-EU applicants aged 23 years, or above, are primarily considered as international applicants (and should apply accordingly), but lifelong learning is also taken into consideration for such candidates.
Classification as a “mature student” applies only to studies up to honours degree level (i.e undergraduate study). No distinction is made on the basis of age for postgraduate study.
What areas of study are on offer?
DCU offers over 60 programmes in the areas of Business, Engineering and Computing, Science and Health, and Humanities and Social sciences. While a small number of courses are part-time or offered at certificate or diploma level, the majority are full-time honours degree-level courses.
Among the areas of study typically most popular with mature applicants at DCU are nursing, sports science and health, athletic therapy and training, communication studies, international relations, education and training, and multimedia. However, mature applicants are invited to apply to any of DCU’s undergraduate programmes.
Where can I get information on courses?
The DCU Undergraduate Prospectus gives details of all courses offered at DCU. It also provides information on many aspects of student life at the University. Copies can be requested from the Registry office at tel: (01) 7005338 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
The DCU website (www.dcu.ie) is also an excellent source of information. Here, for example, you will find descriptions of subjects offered on each course and results or recent graduate employment surveys. A dedicated webpage is available at www.dcu.ie/registry/mature.
Further information for international mature applicants can be found at www.dcu.ie/international. Please consult these pages if you are an international applicant.
What are the entry requirements?
Applying as a mature candidate has advantages, as it means that you do not compete with leaving certificate students for places at DCU. Indeed, mature applicants in some cases do not need to have taken the leaving certificate.
In the case of mature candidates, “other” experience, apart from experience in examinations, can be taken into consideration – this may be work experience,
previous studies, or other such relevant experience. For some programmes it may be necessary to meet specific educational requirements, such as leaving certificate science for science based programmes or higher level mathematics in the leaving certificate for engineering programmes. You can contact our Access Officer at tel: (01) 7008869 or email email@example.com for further details.
When applying as a mature candidate, it is also possible to be considered under a number of different categories. For example, you can apply as a standard Central Applications Office (CAO) applicant ( assessed solely on the basis of leaving certificate results) or under the FETAC Links programme; simply tick the appropriate box on your CAO application form. The DCU Undergraduate Prospectus outlines entry requirements sought from each of these categories of applicant.
If you are not a native English speaker and are applying as a mature student, you will be required to provide evidence of your English language competency before registering for your course. If your education at second level was through English, this may be considered sufficient proof of competency in English. Details of specific certification sought are available in our Undergraduate Prospectus or on the International Office’s webpages at
In all cases, the University will look for evidence of your motivation and ability to make the most of your opportunity to study at DCU.
How long does it take to complete a programme?
The exact duration differs from programme to programme. Full-time degree programmes at DCU typically take 3-4 years to complete. Certificate courses usually take 1 year and diploma courses 2 years.
When do courses start?
The most up to date information on the academic calendar is available on our website http://www.dcu.ie/timetables. DCU operates on a semesterised basis, with two semesters (or terms) in each academic year. Each semester lasts fifteen weeks – twelve teaching weeks followed by two study weeks and a period of examinations.
What level of commitment is required?
Studying for a third level qualification is a major commitment. Full-time students can expect to have on average between 18-25 contact hours a week, consisting of a combination of lectures, tutorials and practical classes. These can be scheduled for any time between 9am to 6pm, Monday to Friday. In addition you will be required to do supplementary reading and project work so it is important to factor this in also. Indicative timetables and a copy of the academic calendar can be found on our website at www.dcu.ie/timetables. Part-time study typically involves about 8-10 contact hours per week, but don’t
forget to also factor in time that you will need for travel, study and assignments. Classes for part-time programmes usually take place on a weekday evenings and/or on Saturdays. In some cases, students attend
classes for a half or a full day at a time. This mode of delivery may suit those currently in employment seeking part-time study. Support from your employer would be required where day-time release to attend lectures is required.
What if I can’t commit to attending lectures?
Oscail, the National Distance Education Centre based at DCU, offers programmes of study that are delivered by means of distance education. Distance education uses correspondence texts, supplemented by the Internet and audio-visual media, to teach those who do not wish or who are unable to attend conventional full-time or part-time programmes. Students can therefore work at their own pace and at times best suited to them. Information on programmes delivered by Oscail is available online at www.oscail.ie or tel: (01) 7005924 to request a brochure. Applications should be made directly to Oscail.
How do I know what course is right for me?
Examine the course content carefully as the title is just an indicator. The DCU online prospectus contains information about courses including the module descriptors. Talk to graduates or current students who have completed your course of interest. Consider the career opportunities with the course. There are many ways to find out about career options including:
o the prospectus: all courses include information about career options
o the Careers Service has useful information about the career paths of
recent graduates from each course at:
o Attend Open Days as this is an ideal opportunity to meet with lecturers
about the courses
o Contact the course chairperson and other units as appropriate
APPLYING TO DCU AS A MATURE CANDIDATE
How do I apply?
Full-Time EU Applicants: Application by mature EU candidates for full-time study is through the Central Applications Office (CAO). Application forms and copies of the CAO handbook can be obtained from the CAO (see contact details below). Applications can also be submitted online at www.cao.ie.
Central Applications Office (CAO)
Tower House, Eglinton Street, Galway
Tel: (091) 509800
Mature applicants to DCU must also submit a Mature Student
Supplementary Application From directly to the University. Copies can
be requested from the Registry Office at tel: (01) 7005338 or email
firstname.lastname@example.org. If you would like some assistance to complete this form
please request a copy of our guide entitled Your Application: Hints & Tips
from the Registry Office (details above) or from the Access Officer at tel:
(01) 7008869 or at email: email@example.com.
stThe closing date for receipt of applications is 1 February in the year of entry.
For information on making a late application please consult our website at: www.dcu.ie/registry/mature.
Part-time Applicants: Mature applicants for part-time study should apply
directly to the University using the Undergraduate Studies Direct Application form. Closing dates for receipt of applications vary, so it is best to check our website for updates. Copies of the application form can be requested from the Registry Office at tel: (01) 7005338 or download a copy at www.dcu.ie/registry/mature.
Transfer Applicants: Mature candidates who hold third level qualifications, and who wish to apply for advanced entry to a related DCU course, should stapply as transfer applicants by 1 July in the year of entry. Application forms
can be obtained as per the part-time application guidelines above.
Non-EU Applicants: Non-EU mature candidates should apply directly to stDCU by the 1 July in the year of entry. Please note, however, that programmes are competitive and places are allocated on a continual basis. Students should apply early in order to avoid disappointment. Non-EU applicants to Nursing programmes should apply through the Central stApplications Office (see above) by 1 February.
If you are unsure whether you are classified as an EU or non-EU applicant for fee purposes, consult our self-assessment facility at
www.dcu.ie/international/eu_status.shtml. Advice is also available from the International Office staff at tel: (01) 7007411 or email:
What happens after I have applied?
DCU shortlists mature candidates for interview for most courses. The interview allows admissions staff to discuss your application in greater detail and to make a final assessment on your suitability for the course. The interview is a two-way process, as it provides an opportunity for you to “sell yourself” and to assess if this is the right course and university for you.
Interviews typically take place in late April/May/June and official offers are made through the CAO in early July. If you attend for interview but do not secure a place the programme chairs or members of your interview panel will be happy to give you feedback on your interview and application. This can be useful if you wish to reapply next year.
Please note, mature applicants to Nursing programmes are assessed by An Bord Altranais by means of written assessment and interview, and are ranked for entry to DCU. For further information please consult An Bord Altranais website www.nursingcareers.ie.
Our Your Application: Hints & Tips will give you information on making your
application and the interview. You can request a copy from the Registry
Office at tel: (01) 7005338 or email firstname.lastname@example.org or from the Access Officer at tel: (01) 7008869 or email email@example.com.
How can I maximise my chances of securing a place at DCU?
In order to make the most of your application, it is important to put time into researching DCU and your chosen course(s) thoroughly. Check the guideline entry requirements for your programme(s) of interest, as this will give you an idea of what is typically required to be in with a realistic chance of securing a place. If you lack knowledge or skills in any particular area, consider enrolling on a relevant Post Leaving Certificate, FETAC, adult education or university foundation course. Alternatively, you might consider taking one or more subjects in the leaving certificate; in addition to enhancing your prospects of securing a place, this may help you to successfully progress in your studies after entering DCU.
When applying, put effort into your written application and include all relevant personal details here – you might not get the chance to discuss things further if you are not called for interview. Our booklet Your Application: Hints & Tips
outlines the type of information that DCU’s admissions staff typically look for in mature student applications, paying particular attention to the personal statement and the Mature Student Supplementary Application Form. You can request a copy from the Registry Office at tel: (01) 7005338 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also request the booklet or discuss your application with the Access Officer at tel: (01) 7008869 or email email@example.com.
DCU SUPPORT SERVICES FOR MATURE STUDENTS
DCU recognises that mature students often face economic, educational or social barriers when returning to or continuing with education. We have therefore developed a range of supports which aims to reduce these barriers. Support is available at the pre and post-entry stages to both applicants and students.
DCU students benefit from a supportive learning environment that includes personal tutor and peer mentoring systems. A range of confidential support services is available to students through Student Support & Development
which is staffed by professionals who understand the particular needs and concerns of adult learners. Among the services offered to students are the Counselling Service, Careers service, Health Service, Chaplaincy, Sports & Recreation Service and Financial assistance service. The Maths Learning Centre also offers a wonderful support structure for students taking maths modules as part of their undergraduate degree programme.
If you are a mature student with a disability, or have a specific learning difficulty of any kind, the Disability Service can offer specialised support and equipment. It is very important that you make contact with the Disability Service as soon as you have received an offer of a place in order to ensure that any relevant supports can be put in place immediately. Funding is
available for the relevant supports from the European Social Fund for Students with Disabilities.
Non-EU mature students can avail of the many services offered by the International Office. These include academic English language support classes, international workshops, regular coffee meetings, and a dedicated orientation programme for international students.
Information on these support services is available in the DCU Undergraduate Prospectus and on the University’s website at
Are there support services specifically for mature students?
Supports specifically for mature students are available and continue to be developed at DCU. These include:
Pre-Entry Support: The University’s Access Officer, Orla Conlan, is
available to offer information and guidance on all aspects of admission as a mature student to DCU. Contact Orla at tel: (01) 7008869 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any queries or would like to arrange an appointment to meet or view the campus.
Open Evening for Mature Applicants: DCU’s Mature Student Open Evening
is an informal information session designed to provide you with an opportunity to find out all you need to know about studying at DCU. Here, you can learn all about courses on offer, get practical tips on how to apply, meet with lecturers from each University department, and hear from current mature students regarding their experiences of university life. For further details on our Open Evening please visit our website or contact our Access Officer at tel: (01) 7008869 or email: email@example.com.
Mature Student Summer School: This is a two day preparatory course
delivered in mid-September for new mature students, the aim of which is to help smooth your transition to university life in DCU. At the summer school you can attend workshops on topics such as the use of technology in learning, study skills, and writing an academic paper. It is also an excellent opportunity to meet with other new mature students in advance of the start of term.
Careers Service: The Careers Service is committed to assisting our students in taking the next step towards career development and future employment. We offer a number of services to current mature students including targeted workshops and seminars; one-to-one appointments; career fairs and events; online job search system and online career development databases.
Mature Student Society: DCU students can choose from over 100 clubs
and societies to help them meet new people, develop their interests, integrate into university life, and to help balance study with play. The Mature Student Society is run by students themselves and so its success depends on the participation of all mature students. The Society is a great resource through
which mature students can meet peers from other courses, exchange ideas, form study groups, or even just gossip!
On-Campus Crèche Facilities: For students with young families, DCU’s on-
campus crèche provides a professional day-care service for infants and young children. Early application is advised. Full-time students without a working partner, who are using the crèche on a full-time basis, may be able to apply to the the University’s Financial Assistance Service for support.
FINANCIAL CONSIDERATIONS FOR MATURE STUDENTS
Entering university as a mature learner opens up a whole new horizon of opportunities. To make this journey as beneficial as possible, you must come fully prepared for this new life. One of the major changes will involve your finances. It is important to consider what impact being a student will have on your living expenses and how you will fund any increase in costs that may arise.
What is the typical cost of living for students?
The DCU Financial Assistance Service estimates the average cost of living for full-time students is approximately ?900 per month, or ?500 for students living
at home (i.e with parents or guardians). Please remember, however, that these figures primarily relate to students who have just completed their Leaving Certificate and have not yet become accustomed to a particular standard of living (e.g. do not have dependents, a weekly wage, car, etc).
Will I have to pay fees?
Under the Government’s Free Fees Initiative, university tuition fees are covered by the Department of Education and Science for full-time, undergraduate, non-repeat European Union students who have been ordinarily resident in an EU member state for at least three of the last five years. Non-EU nationals who have been granted refugee status, and who have been ordinarily resident in an EU member state for at least three of the five years preceding their entry into the University, may also qualify. Such students pay only a registration fee. For students who qualify under the Local Authority-run Higher Education Grants Scheme (see below), the majority of this registration fee is covered. For the most up to date information on free fees it is recommended that you visit our website at: www.dcu.ie/finance/fees.
What if I already went to college?
Students who are undertaking a second undergraduate course at third level will not qualify for “Free Fees”. This applies regardless of whether or not the student completed the course of study. However, there are two exceptions to this rule:
1. Students who hold a National Certificate or Diploma, and who are
progressing to a directly related degree course, may be eligible.
2. Where a student did not complete his/her first course of study, and is
now returning to study after a break of five years or more, he/she is
classified as a “Second Chance Student”. Subject to fulfilling the
other general Free Fees criteria above, he/she will be entitled to “fee
tuition” for a degree course.
If you have already completed a course at another third level college, you should include a copy of an academic transcript (i.e results) with your application. If you have withdrawn from a course without completing it, you should enclose a certificate of attendance showing the relevant dates of entry and withdrawal. This will help to ascertain your eligibility for Free Fees.
If you are unsure of whether you qualify, contact the Student Support Unit of the Department of Education and Science at tel: (01) 8734700 for guidance.
The DCU Finance Office publishes updated fees on an annual basis and a fees booklet can be requested at tel: (01) 7008069/5153 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org. Details are also posted on the DCU website at
What kind of financial supports are available?
There are a number of sources of financial support available to full-time mature students. The main schemes are described below. Further information is provided in the Department of Education and Science’s booklet, Financial Support for Further and Higher Education. Prospective students
can request a free copy from the Department’s Student Support Unit at tel:
(01) 8734700 or download a copy at www.education.ie.
Higher Education Grants Scheme
Higher education maintenance grants are tested and should be applied for via your Local Authority. Application forms can be downloaded from Local Authority websites. All mature students who qualify for a maintenance grant are entitled to the higher or “non-adjacent” rate. Mature students who are in
receipt of a social welfare allowance may also qualify for Special Rates of the Maintenance Grant. For further details, contact your Local Authority or visit http://www.citizensinformation.ie/categories/education/third-level-education/fees-and-supports-for-third-level-education.
Back to Education Allowance
The Back to Education Allowance (BTEA) is a scheme for mature students who are in receipt of certain forms of Social Welfare Allowance. Participants receive a standard rate of payment, which is not means tested, and an annual allowance towards the cost of studies. In addition, you may keep any secondary benefits you have under the Supplementary Allowance Scheme. Participants in the BTEA scheme may combine this with a maintenance grant under the Higher Education Grants Scheme (see above). Contact your local Social Welfare office for details or consult the Department of Social and Family affairs at tel: (01) 7043000 or visit www.welfare.ie.
DCU Student Assistance Fund
The DCU Student Assistance Fund is operated by the University’s Financial
Assistance Service. It is aimed at tackling educational disadvantage by providing assistance to DCU students who may require additional financial support to enable them to benefit fully from their education. The Fund is open to full-time students, with special consideration given to undergraduate students with financial difficulties. Financial support granted by the Fund cannot be used for fees purposes. For details, visit
http://www.dcu.ie/students/finance/index.shtml or tel: (01) 7006281.
Tax Relief on Tuition Fees
Tax relief at the standard rate of tax can be claimed on tuition fees paid for certain full-time and part-time undergraduate courses of at least 2 years’
duration. The relief can be claimed on fees up to a maximum of ?5,000 per
academic year. For further details, contact the Revenue Commissioners at tel: 1890 333425 (Dublin) or visit www.revenue.ie.
ADDITIONAL INFORMATION FOR MATURE STUDENTS
Accommodation: For mature students who wish to live on campus, DCU
has apartments available for approximately 1,100 students. One quarter of places are reserved for first year students. If you would like to live on campus with other mature students, our accommodation service will try to facilitate your request. Apply online at www.roomsatdcu.com and contact Campus Residences Ltd. (email: email@example.com) at the time of applying, indicating your preference.
Sports Scholarships: Mature candidates who are talented athletes can apply for the Elite Sportsperson Entry Scheme and the University’s Sports
Scholarships scheme. Information and application forms are available online at www.dcu.ie/students/sports/scholarships.shtml or from the Registry office at tel: (01) 7005338 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Finally, please remember to consider all aspects of your return to education. Have you researched sources of financial support? Have you the support of friends and family? Have you looked into transport links? Are you aware of any periods of work placement or study overseas that your chosen course includes? Mature students at DCU tend to perform very well in their studies and really enjoy their university experience. With careful preparation in advance of applying, followed by plenty of work and dedication once you get here, there is no reason why you cannot match their tremendous achievements.