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Postgraduate & Mature Students

When are you a mature student?

The general definition of a mature applicant is someone who is 23 years old before or during the year in which he/she wishes to enroll for a formal academic programme.

Another category of mature candidates refers to people older than 45 years who did not follow the formal secondary school route in the South African schooling system and aspire to enter higher education.

Such candidates may apply for conditional matriculation exemption from Universities South Africa (USA) for entering formal academic programmes at South African universities.

They may be admitted to university study subject to specified conditions and terms as specified by the Committee of (University) Principals and the senate of the university. Senate has to be of the opinion that such applicant may reasonably be expected to complete the chosen curriculum.

Note that, apart from a matriculation certificate (with/without exemption) access to diploma and degree programmes may also entail other requirements relevant to the field of study as stipulated by the chosen university. Candidates may be obliged to meet such requirements before being admitted to the programme of their choice.

Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL)

The National Plan for Higher Education indicates the importance of broadening participation of employed workers and mature learners in further study opportunities.

All South African universities therefore put policies in place for the recognition of prior learning (RPL) that mature age applicants have acquired that may be appropriate for admission to formal academic studies.

RPL refers to a formulised evaluation and acknowledgement of relevant knowledge and skills that a mature learner has gained other than through formal study. This may also include assessment of work and life experience relevant to the learning programme considered.

Mature applicants, who would like guidance on the acceptability of their qualifications and experience, or on how to qualify for entry to our programmes, should first contact NMMU’s Centre for Access Assessment and Research (CAAR) before submitting a formal application.


Tips for mature learners returning to study

Success begins within yourself

  • Be clear and honest about the reasons why you want to study.
  • Never underestimate the value of life experience.
  • Don’t compare yourself to others – the enjoyment of the learning experience starts with a belief in your own abilities.

Success begins at home

  • Make sure that family members know why study is important to you.
  • Ask your family and friends to respect your at-home study times and tell them how best to support you during your study years.
  • A copy of your timetable on the fridge door will keep them informed of your whereabouts!
  • If you are a parent, organise child-care well in advance to ensure peace of mind when you spend time on campus or have to prepare for tests and examinations.
  • Do not lose sight of your family and close friends’ needs. Schedule regular time with them to catch up with their interests.

The ABC of a successful study career

  • Expect to experience feelings of stress, isolation and incompetence. Allow yourself enough time to get accustomed to the demands of academic life.
  • Stay focused. Rather than becoming anxious and getting lost in detail or triviality, try to determine how each topic and module fits in with the bigger picture of the programme.
  • Use your time effectively and be organised. Time-management skills are essential to keep on top of your studies.
  • Upgrade your technology skills for greater success. Computer technology is used extensively throughout NMMU for teaching, learning and accessing of information and resources.
  • Use support services available on campus to ease your academic life.
  • The more time you spend on campus, the more you will start to feel that you belong.
  • Build an on-campus network of friends and acquaintances – including other mature students, as well as younger students who might just be the trigger for more up-dated and trendy perspectives!
  • Make personal contact with your lecturers to discuss matters related to work and your learning environment, particularly if your feel you are not coping with the workload.
  • Celebrate your successes and share it with people who are important to you. Make completion of a difficult study task and coping with the demands of university life the reason for rewarding yourself regularly. You deserve recognition!
Contact information
Mr Andrew Kock
Senior Marketing Practitioner: Postgraduate & Mature Student Markets
Tel: 041-504 2162
andrew.kock@nmmu.ac.za

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