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Adult student support

23 November 2023

Once you enrol as an adult student at UC, you'll be one of about 4,000 students aged 25 and over who are studying with us. See what adult student support is available to help you.



Stepping into university life as an adult might seem daunting and you might have conflicting priorities to juggle. We’re here to make the transition easy and enjoyable.

UC defines adult students as students over the age of 20. If you are over 20 and do not have University Entrance through NCEA or equivalent secondary school study, you can apply to UC through Adult Entry status.

Choose your study pathway

Preparatory courses

If it’s been a while since you last studied, you may need to polish up some of those writing and study skills. The Certificate in University Preparation (CUP) is a thirteen week course specifically designed to help you gain the skills needed to succeed at university. CUP is a proven path back into education as it meets the requirements for University Entrance and is recommended for people who have been out of study for a substantial period and want to refresh their study skills.

Depending on the degree and subjects you are interested in studying, and other commitments you have, you might look to do just a couple of CUP courses rather than the whole Certificate. Talk to the Future Students Team about your options.


The FAST PATH into Engineering and Product Design degrees

For those looking at a more in-depth preparation option for Engineering and Product Design degrees, the University of Canterbury (UC) and Hagley College have collaborated to bring you this three-stage pathway designed for 20+ students.


Only want to study one or two courses?

Certificate of Proficiency enables you to select a course or courses to develop your own individual adult education programme to meet your learning needs.

If you successfully complete this, your results are recorded on your academic transcript and can be recognised through a printed certificate. If you decide to stay at UC to complete a formal qualification, the courses taken may be credited towards your qualification, but this will not happen automatically.


Certificates & diplomas

If you don’t have the time to commit to a full degree, or simply want to upskill or reskill in a particular field, you will find various short career development options at UC.


Undergraduate degrees

UC offers undergraduate bachelor degrees across a large range of disciplines. Bachelor degrees can prepare you for a specific career path or offer a pathway to postgraduate study or research.


Wanting to change career?

Graduate certificates and diplomas can enable people with a bachelor's degree to change subject focus and be a first step to a new career. Some graduate qualifications, for example the Graduate Diploma in Teaching and Learning Early Childhood, are professional qualifications that prepare you for a specific career.


Postgraduate courses

If you have a bachelor’s degree and have been in the workforce for a number of years, postgraduate study can help you gain more specialised skills in your area of interest. Some, but not all, postgrad study can be done part-time while you are in work.
Options include:


Distance study

If coming to campus is not an option, we do offer some programmes online or by distance. To see what courses are available via distance, do an Advanced Course Search and choose ‘distance’ from the ‘site’ tab.

Our UC team can help you explore different study options, answer your questions and help you decide whether to study part-time or full-time, by distance or in a short-term block course. (Not all options are available for all courses/programmes.)

Other questions you may have
  • What are key enrolment dates?
  • How do I apply to enrol?
  • Can I transfer credits from another programme of study?
  • What do various university words mean?
  • What is the difference between lectures and tutorials?
    A lecture is where an academic staff member presents course material to a large group of students. Tutorials are smaller classes where you put into practice the material you’ve learnt in the lecture and associated readings for the subject. Some degrees might have practicals, seminars, or laboratory classes as well.
  • What sort of time commitment will it be?
    Allow about 150 hours for each 15-point undergraduate course. For semester-long courses that is a workload of just over 10 hours a week on average, including reading the online course materials and working on assignments.


Fees Free at UC


If you haven’t studied at tertiary level before, you may be eligible for the government Fees-Free scheme in your first year of study.

The Government's fees-free scheme means eligible students do not have to pay tuition fees in their first year at UC. This includes those starting in Semester Two. We can help you apply to enrol and check out your fees-free eligibility. Or to check your eligibility for fees-free tertiary study, and to see all the policy details and terms and conditions.

As an adult student, you can access all the support services available to all new students, such as health services, the UC RecCentre, student advisors, academic skills workshops and Student Care to help you stay on track. Student health and wellbeing is important to us, so all students are encouraged to ask for help – especially when things don’t go quite to plan.


We also have some specific additional support for adult students, such as those shown below.


Adult student orientation

We offer a special adult student information session at the start of the academic year on Herea tō Waka | Orientation Day (O Day). This is a great opportunity for newly-enrolled adult students to hear from support services and other adult students and make connections with other new adult students.

To get a feel for what this session is like, you can watch the 2020 info session.


Academic skills for adult students’ programme

The Academic Skills Centre provides one-to-one support, tutorials, and workshops to all UC students, along with an adult student academic orientation and adult student tutorials at the start of each semester. These can help you make a smooth transition to university studies as well as make connections with other mature students.

Free workshops and seminars include Effective Note-TakingDemystifying the University System, Time Management and Introduction to Essay Writing.


Postgrad space

The Living Room’ next to the University Bookshop is a dedicated space for postgraduate students to hang out and connect with fellow students.


Students with families

Juggling family commitments is not always easy, so UC support includes:

  • On campus day-care services
  • There are two parent rooms on campus for nursing parents: 
    • On the ground floor of Matariki Building, immediately across from where you enter through the main double doors, is a room called the "Wellness Room'. It is equipped with a fridge, microwave and changing mat, and the door is lockable from the inside. There is an occupied/vacant slider to indicate when it is in use. 
    • Forestry Room 236 has facilities for breastfeeding and bottle feeding such as a kettle and microwave for heating bottles, a fridge for keeping milk cool and a chair with a power point beside it to allow for expressing.
  • Baby-changing facilities in Puaka-James Hight – in the male toilets of Level 1 (accessible from the Undercroft) and in the female toilets of Level 2 (accessible from the Central Library).


Social activities to enhance your student experience

If you can find the time, here are some ways to make connections with other mature students or people with similar interests:

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