How I found my community as a mature student

University of Leeds
University of Leeds
3 min readJun 13, 2024

Starting university as a young mature student, Mitchell wasn’t sure he would fit in until he discovered the Lifelong Learning Centre’s Middle Ground Network.

Mitchell sitting at a desk with his laptop and taking notes in a classroom. In the background, other students are working at computers.

I chose to take a break after completing my A-levels, but I knew I wanted to go to university to study business economics.

Having just turned 21 when I started my degree at Leeds, I was classed as a mature student. I didn’t feel like I fit in with the 18-year-olds around me, yet I didn’t feel like an older mature student.

That’s when I discovered the Lifelong Learning Centre and the Middle Ground Network — a dedicated network for younger mature students, designed to fill the gap between these two groups.

With the Middle Ground Network, I feel like a regular student. We still do what other students do, like go to the bars on campus and do fun activities like bowling, but I feel like I am now surrounded by like-minded people.

Becoming a key member of the network

Towards the end of my first year, I got involved with the Lifelong Learning Centre and the Middle Ground Network, working as a part-time intern to help organise and engage students in events.

We organised bowling and karaoke events and collaborated with other organisations such as Get Out, Get Active. It was great to be able to offer my perspective and get involved.

At the end of the year, the project was recognised at the University’s Partnership Awards, winning the University-wide Overall Partnership Award.

Mitchell and another student smiling and performing at a karaoke and pizza event in a bar.

I have continued to work on the project in my second year, and I now also work with the Lifelong Learning Centre as a Student Success Intern.

I have a more direct impact on the events and direction of the project, as well as sitting on the Mature Student Advisory Board, a diverse panel of 15 mature and younger mature students. I have spoken at a nationwide conference for mature students and been involved in hiring a new intern for the team as we grow.

At our events, we see the same students returning, which is gratifying and proof that we are doing the right thing with Middle Ground Network.

A proud moment for me personally was winning the 2024 Leeds University Business School Student of the Year Partnership Award due to my work with the Lifelong Learning Centre.

The Lifelong Learning Centre has enabled me to grow both personally and professionally, I have more networks on campus and have gained experience representing mature students at the University.

The environment is a friendly and supportive one, it’s a versatile space and you find what you’re looking for there, whether it’s someone to study with or someone to just chill with, you will always find someone there because there’s always people around.

I had no idea what kind of work goes on behind the scenes at a university, but working as an intern for the Lifelong Learning Centre has demonstrated just some of the work that goes on to support students.

I am proud of the growth we have seen at Middle Ground Network, with our member numbers increasing, meaning the work we do is definitely worthwhile.

The Lifelong Learning Centre is home to the University’s specialist teaching and support for mature, part-time and foundation year students.

Find out more about studying as a mature student at the University of Leeds.