I DID a scary thing last week ... I went back to university after the best part of 30 years.

I can confirm that the educational landscape has changed somewhat in the intervening time. But in a good way.

To say I was apprehensive when I arrived on campus to collect my matriculation card, which bears the image of a considerably more seasoned bearer than my previous issue, is a mild understatement. Absolutely terrified more closely describes what I was feeling. Back in the day, mature students seemed to be no older than thirtysomething, merely well ripened stilton. I felt older than the Neolithic cheese discovered in Croatia last week.

Happily, I was soon to find that academia in 21st-century Scotland is as inclusive as it is diverse. Our class of 30 ranges widely in ages, background, circumstances and skills. And it’s all the richer for this.

OK, I’ve met a fellow student who knows my son ... and another whose father was at school with my husband, and this confirms my relatively advanced years. But the only person at all conscious of the mileage on my clock is, well, me. Time to consign those outdated attitudes to the ancient history of the 1980s.

My initial fears allayed, meeting and getting to know fellow learners has been enriching and insightful in equal measure. Hearing about the wide variety of educational paths taken by students to arrive at the same place is a heartening testament to an education system that has progressed in recent times to offer myriad paths for learners so that they can reach their chosen destinations. While there is still much work to be done to ensure that young people of all backgrounds are nurtured by an education system that allows them to pursue their goals and realise their full potential, the progress made in the growing options available to school-leavers should be celebrated.

Back on campus, having navigated the unfamiliar demographic landscape, there’s the imposing mountain of new technology to scale. But the view is good from up there. Gone are the days when overhead projectors were cutting edge, PowerPoint was but a fancy and essays were submitted in longhand.

Now my educational world is reached through a student portal. Vast plains of information and resources are available at a click. Very useful is “Listen Again” – handy recordings of lectures – although I do wonder if my 18-year-old self would have regularly made it to nine o’clock classes if this facility had existed back then.

The library itself is also state-of-the-art. And if you can’t get to it, no problem. Students can use eduroam, the research, higher and further education roaming service, to access the networks of institutions the world over. Never again will there be an excuse to dodge uni work.

The most striking change I’ve noticed in the passing of the years, though, is how much younger the freshers are. They still wear the same ripped denims, although I suspect this trend has come and gone a few times over the years. They will no doubt consume the odd beer too many during freshers’ week. And they may well have been packed off with kitchen equipment they will never use, let alone wash.

But I don’t recall ever looking that young.

Perhaps I’m just showing my age.