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July 31, 2006 | by  | in News | [ssba]

What the hell is a mature student anyway?

As part of getting information about the Mature Students Network – a representative group, supported by VUWSA – more streamlined and accessible, the executive surveyed several sectors of the university and found that there was much confusion about what actually constituted a mature student. The responses ranged from 21 years of age, to 25, some with a proviso that they also had to be a returning student.

In order to clarify this situation the network has opted to run with the recruitment categorisation, namely : anyone who is eligible for direct entry to university. That is – anyone over the age of twenty. I can see all those twenty year olds shuddering now at the thought of being referred to as a mature student (this brings a smile to my face); we are simply attempting to fit in to the universities preset boundaries.

However, age is not a determinant of maturity. The dictionary will tell us that to be mature is to be complete in natural development; with fully developed powers of body and mind, and to come to maturity is to come to adulthood, to have experience, and to have wisdom.

Look at me for example, I am sometimes a little crazy, sometimes a little childish (sometimes a lot). So how the hell did I get elected as president of the Mature Students Network? It beats me. But here I am, and with the help of my cohorts we will endeavour not to steer the ship onto the rocks.

If you look at those currently attending the mature student events you will see a diverse range of people in age, thinking, and beliefs, and who may or may not fit the dictionary definition (in my opinion). But, all at the MSN are looking to network with like minds, who might be doing similar courses,and to add a social dimension to their university study.

In the past few years we have had several subsidized dinners, visits to Matiu – Somes Island and Eastbourne, Karori wildlife park, wine tasting, movies, Te Papa exhibitions, guest speakers, barbecues, a blues night, and pool evenings.

The network now has links on the university home web page, learning support services web page, VUWSA web page, campus connections, and the postgraduate news, as well as a new email address –

The network is active in its desire to foster networking of all “mature” students, and what you put in, you will get out. So if you want to add another dimension to your time here at Victoria, want to find out more about us, or just want free plunger coffee or green tea & honey on the lunch meeting days, just turn up or send us an email.

So what the hell is a mature student?
Come along and decide for yourself
Grant Bartlett


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Comments (3)

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  1. Ms Wiz says:

    I am a mature student. 45yrs, mum of 3. I trained and worked as a nurse and midwife prior to children. As soon as they started school I knew I had to get out the house and I need intellectual stimulation or I get very down & depressed. I had always wanted to go to Uni but due to poor expectations and a rubbish school (1970’s – needlework & cookery were the only options for girls!) I didn’t. So, I went to the local college, started off with IT, then and Access course and I am now in my third year of a literature degree. I love it. I have made goood friends, I thrive on the intellectual discussions and the process of writing first class essays. The only thing I worry about now is what to do after I graduate. I want to carry on and do a masters, my husband, luckily supports me and encourages me but I am conscious that he deserves a break from being the only wager earner. Do I fit the profile of a mature student? I guess so, at my Uni anyway. The majority are female and like me late 30’s or early 40’s. We are adament that we are not ‘bored housewives’ – the work load is to heavy for that, but we all juggle studying with school runs, kids activities and running the home. My kids are all under 12 and the demands their schools make add to the workload. However, we all agree – to stop learning would be dreadful.

  2. Jenn says:

    thanks for sharing!
    could i be presumptuous and ask you to fill in a student parents survey form, available at VUWSA or the NZUSA website? the nz union of students associations is running this survey to try and find more out about student parents in order to represent them better and help them more. we need stories like yours to tell to those people in paliament that think students are all beer drinking 18 year olds wanting who dont care about debt…

  3. elyse says:


    Did you happen to live in Australia and attend Ashfield Boys High School in the 1980’s i am trying to locate someone with the same name as you…
    Muchly appreciate it if i received a response.

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