Student's Life Changing and Award-Winning Access to HE Journey

Exeter College news article

Date: Tuesday 29 May 2018

Mid Devon student Sharon Birch has spoken of her joy at being award a coveted academic prize after her life changing return to education with an Access to Higher Education course.

Sharon Birch, who is from Crediton, has been awarded the Plymouth University Academic Partnerships Prize for her exceptional University Level studies at Exeter College.

Sharon started her degree journey with an Access to Higher Education course at Exeter College, and then progressed on to a University Level course. She has now completed her her BSc (Hons) in Health and Social Care and is planning to start a PGCE to become a college lecturer.

Sharon said: “Completing the Access Diploma and undertaking my degree at Exeter College really has been life changing. 

 I left education in the 1980s and I’ve always regretted not doing a degree. The access diploma at Exeter College, which only takes a year, gave me the qualifications I needed to start my degree.

“Now that I’ve completed my degree, I am looking to start a PGCE in September and become a college lecturer.”

Talking about her award, Sharon added: “I feel extremely honoured to have been awarded the Plymouth University Academic Partnerships Prize. It was a lovely, if unexpected surprise.

“Undertaking a degree rather later in life than many people, I have encountered some challenges but also enjoyed so many wonderful experiences.

“I am grateful to all of the brilliant teaching staff at Exeter College, my family, friends and fellow students for their encouragement and support throughout my learning journey.”

The Access to Higher Education (HE) Diploma is a qualification which prepares students for study at degree level. If you would like to go to university but left school without the qualifications you need or you are thinking of a career change, then an Access to HE Diploma could be for you. The Access to HE Diploma is widely recognised as a route to degree level qualifications, and university level providers actively encourage applications from Access to HE students.

Edgar Mihas, who taught Sharon at Exeter College, said: “Sharon has been an amazingly diligent and successful who has shone through the years that she has been with Exeter College.

“Sharon has shown particularly strong commitment and has worked so efficiently even under adverse personal and other circumstances.

“Sharon never compromised the high standard of her, never missed a single deadline, always being supportive towards others, showing unprecedented empathy and being the driving force behind her tutorial group campaign to raise money for the Exeter College charity.”

The Access to HE Leader, Louisa Coates, commented that: “Sharon had a remarkable journey through the Access to HE Diploma. The course did exactly what it was designed to do – it built both Sharon’s confidence in returning to education and provided her with the study skills and subject knowledge she needed for her degree. 

“She isn’t alone – we have over a hundred ‘Sharons’ every year that return to thank the Access to HE team who fully prepared them for life as a student on a University Level programme and tell us that the Access to HE Diploma was so rewarding and a turning point in their lives.”

Applications are now open for a wide range of Access to Higher Education Diplomas at Exeter College, for entry in September 2018. Choose from a range of Access to HE Diplomas, including: Art and Design, Business, Computing, Healthcare, Humanities, Teaching and Education (Primary), Science, and STEM. Click here to find out more.

For more information, come to the Adult Training and Learning Event, Tuesday, 19th June 2018, 5-7pm, at the CCI, Queen Street, Exeter College, Exeter. Register online to let Exeter College know that you are coming: Click here to register.


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