I'm postgraduate student at QMU, currently writing my final dissertation about NFTs for my MSc Accounting and Finance with CIMA. I'm also a mother of three who balances studying with raising her children.

I want to share my experience of being a mature student at QMU and how the University supports others like me who need to juggle studies around childcare commitments.

I was a bit nervous about starting as a mature student, imagining myself sitting alongside other - younger – students. It had been many years since I was last in a classroom. Having been in the workplace for so long, I thought I might feel like the odd one out. 

My fears were unfounded, nobody cared… in a good way! My peers and I just got on with what we were there to do, be students.

I had already decided I wanted to study at QMU as it offered the specific course I was interested in, but once I started, I felt even more relieved that this had been my chosen institution. Here are some of the many reasons why QMU works for me as a mum and mature student:


My children are at primary and secondary school, so during the day, even though they are supervised, I still always feel ‘on call’. Any mum will understand the need to be easily accessible, just one phone call away, if one kid has a temperature, or another gets a sports injury and I have to come and collect them.

Dealing with these unexpected surprises was entirely possible while I was a student, making that quick exit was so easy because QMU has a car park on campus…. jumping in the car was no problem, it was right there.


Flexible library hours

My studying really had to fit in around my children, their school times and extra activities. I needed to plan and know in advance when I was going to be on campus.  I also needed some extra time and a quiet, distraction-free space to get my work done.

That was no problem as I was issued my timetable at the start of the semester, which gave me the time to plan. 

Additionally, the library at QMU is open 24-hours a day, so I could go at any time and use the space and resources whenever it suited me.  Evenings and weekends are a good time to go as it’s less busy.  

Academic support

One thing I did struggle with at first – and needed help with throughout my time as a student – was how to write academically.  I had no experience prior to my course and found many online resources very confusing.

However, the Effective Learning service, available at the QMU Learning Resource Centre (LRC) was so helpful.  There are dedicated subject librarians, each very knowledgeable and they were keen to help and point me in the right direction.  I could book one-to-one sessions or go to a workshop to understand what was expected and get training.  I got the hang of it quite quickly and it made me feel proud of the work I submitted.

Small, welcoming university

My favourite thing about studying at QMU was that, because of its small size, the lecturers knew me by name, I felt seen and welcome.  I had left a workplace where I felt part of a community and was worried that I would feel lost in the University environment, like I was just another number.  I couldn’t be more wrong.  Throughout my time doing a degree I was always able to say hi to someone when passing them in the corridor and if I emailed a lecturer, they knew who I was.

Advice for other mature students

If I could offer any advice to other prospective mature students, I would say don’t hold back... and if you feel lost, just ask! There are always people available to help you. QMU offers a learning environment that supports students to flourish, whatever their situation when they start at University. This is a key part of the QMU Student Experience Strategy.

There is a whole range of services to use to help you through your studies, whether it’s some guidance on the library or online resources, questions about financial help or just to make sense of what is expected and what support is available as a student, a parent, a carer, etc. 

For me going to Uni was personal, I wanted to prove to myself I could do it, but I also wanted to enjoy the journey.  Four years later I look back and think, it was so worth it.  All the hard work counted, although there was never pressure from anyone, only ever encouragement.  I wanted to do my very best and I got so much out of it.  I did need some help along the way, but it was always there.  I am so pleased I decided to be a mature student for a while, I’ve learned so much about myself, I’ve grown, and I am more confident in my abilities even surprising myself sometimes. 

It’s the best decision I have ever made. 

Tanya Davel

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