Starting a degree is scary enough for students heading off to university as a next step after their A-levels. For mature students, the prospect can be even more intimidating. And with a study-intensive subject like law, it can be more imposing still, not to mention difficult to know where to begin. Even so, breaking down some of the essentials of becoming a mature student taking a law degree can help make things look a lot clearer and a lot more manageable.
To qualify for a law degree, you will need a certain level of pre-undergraduate education. The exact criteria vary between different universities, but in general things are as follows. If you have A-levels or equivalent qualifications with good grades, then you are likely qualified to apply for a law degree. If not, then the best way to become qualified is probably to take an Access to Higher Education course – a college-level qualification that has been specifically designed to prepare people for a degree.
If you are already educated to degree-level, then you are by definition qualified for a university education. But more than that, you might not have to take another full degree if you want to pursue or switch to a career in the law. Depending on the subject and grade of your existing degree and the requirements of the university you are applying to, you might well qualify to take a shorter and more affordable conversion course instead.
If you are a UK national taking a degree for the first time, then you will usually qualify for financial support from Student Finance just like those who are starting their degree as soon as they leave school. You might still qualify for a reduced level of funding if you have started but not completed a degree in the past.
If you do not qualify for financial assistance from Student Finance – for example if you already have a degree – then your studies will have to be self-funded. However, this situation might not be quite so clear-cut as it appears. If you are already working for a legal practice and are taking your degree (or, indeed, your conversion course) because your employer has asked you to for career reasons, then you should talk to them about the matter of funding. As they have requested that you take the course, your employer may be willing to provide assistance with the financial aspect.