Students are never too old to learn

AGE is no barrier to third-level education as many retired people continue to discover the learning curve can still be fun.

More than 90 of the students registered at Waterford Institute of Technology are aged 60 or over, new data shows.

Among them are an 82-year-old; a 73-year-old; two 72-year-olds, a 71-year-old and no fewer than four 70-year-olds.

Furthermore, 15 are full-time students, while the remaining 78 study part-time. Almost two-thirds of students aged 60 or over are female.

WIT’s director Prof Kieran R. Byrne said the Institute is always keen to support life-long learning.

The growing numbers of retirees, in particular, going back to college augurs well for the future.

“Data from the Higher Education Authority shows that a growing number of retired people are taking up third-level courses and this is certainly reflected here in Waterford and the southeast.

“The institute is proud to have 93 students aged 60 or over. Their commitment to lifelong learning is second to none. The mix of age profiles on several of our programmes benefits everyone. Mature students add greatly to college life, and younger students coming to higher education directly from school learn a great deal from those with greater life and work experience.

“The experiences they have accumulated help our mature students act as mentors for younger students. We are proud of our older student cohort and are anxious to see that number grow into the future. Supports for adults wishing to return to education have greatly facilitated such a move,” Prof Byrne said.

The mature students study over a variety of disciplines. They include 28 on personal development courses; 15 registered on the Higher Certificate in Arts in Literacy Development; others on the Certificate in Tourism Business Practice programme, while others are on the Continuing Professional Development Courses.

The HEA has developed a dedicated website that outlines all funding possibilities for those interested in going to third level.

Further information is available on


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