October 24, 2018, by Liz Cass
Making a difference to adult education
As the Civic University Commission publishes its first progress report which focusses on the civic purpose of universities in providing adult education, we explore the experiences of two of our mature students.
Tracy Young is 44 and lives in Arnold, Nottingham. She is in her final year of a Midwifery degree.
She was inspired to become a midwife after the birth of her third child, who has just turned 15, but felt she had left it too late.
Instead she got a job as a hearing screener for new-borns within midwifery services. It wasn’t until, in an annual appraisal, she was asked about her ambitions and encouraged to pursue her dream that she decided to go back and study for her GCSEs, an Access Course and then a BSc in Midwifery.
In her first year of study Tracy’s tutors identified she had dyslexia and dyspraxia – something she had previously been unaware of and possibly the reason for her struggles at school.
She fits her studies around being a wife and a mum to her son and two daughters.
She says: “I was awful at school and just thought I was thick. I concentrated on my family and I got a job as a receptionist but when I was 30 I felt I wanted to do more. I got a job within maternity services, I really wanted to be a midwife but I didn’t have the qualifications. I’d almost given up on the idea – I thought I was too old – but my employer pushed me to make objectives towards getting qualifications and it really just snowballed.
“I now know that no one has left it too late. There is such a diverse age group at the University that I’ve never felt out of place. We’ll all there for the same purpose. It hasn’t been easy but it wasn’t as a bad as I thought it would be. I just wish I’d done it sooner.”
Janine Furr had a similar experience but said the unique support at the University of Nottingham had encouraged her to keep going.
She said: “I have always wanted to be a nurse and have spent much of my life in education or working as a care assistant in a brain injury unit. My plan was to always go to university. I have never felt overly academic and I have surprised myself with my grades. I’m a firm believer that hard work and learning from areas that need improvement are key to progression in higher education.
“I have found it very challenging doing the degree, especially being a busy mum too. I have thoroughly enjoyed the challenge. Having needed extra support this year with home problems I really cannot fault the university and they have supported me beyond what I thought was possible. Without that support I would have had no choice but to quit.”
Chaired by Lord Kerslake, the former Head of the Civil Service, and including eminent figures from the world of HE, business and civil society, the Commission is a major, nationwide and independent inquiry into how universities should serve their civic role in the 21st century.
Find out more about becoming a mature student at the University of Nottingham.