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Dr Stuart Prior, Lecturer in Archaeological Practice; 1995 Access to HE; 1999 BA & 2004 PhD, Archaeology, University of Bristol 
Stuart's story

When I left school, I had no clear idea of what I wanted to do with my life, so I did a host of menial jobs. After a bad accident and being off work for several months, I decided that I ought to set off and see the world. I travelled for over six years, and discovered archaeology! Following my first taste of excavation in Mohenjo-Daro, Pakistan, I decided to return to the UK to study archaeology at university. As I hadn’t done particularly well at school, taking an Access to HE course seemed to be the most logical way forward.

It was my first time back in the classroom since school

At first, doing the Access course was a bit daunting, especially as it was my first time back in the classroom since school. The tutors, however, were fantastic, and they quickly put us at ease, making allowances for the fact that mature students often have to juggle home and family life alongside their studies. The academic work itself was a real challenge for me, and I had a steep hill to climb in terms of my research and writing skills. The tutors were supportive, understanding and helpful, and their tuition, guidance and knowledge has proved invaluable to me over the years.

Completing the Access course wasn’t easy, but it was one of the most rewarding, enriching and valuable experiences of my life, and one which set me in good stead for entrance to university. Admissions tutors at universities love Access course graduates, as the course prepares you well for study at university level. I applied for places at a number of different universities, and was made an offer from each.

Skills I learnt on the Access course proved invaluable   

I went to Bournemouth University to study for an HND in Practical Field Archaeology. I then went on to the University of Bristol, and gained first a BA, then an MA, and eventually completed a PhD. I am now a Lecturer in Archaeological Practice at the University of Bristol, and also the Admissions Tutor for the Archaeology and Anthropology Department, so you could say that I have come full circle. The skills that I learnt on the Access course proved invaluable in my academic studies, and I still use them on a daily basis in my research and teaching as an academic.