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Richard's story

I had been unable to work as I was caring for my son, who was ill at the time, and I suddenly realised I didn't want to be a bricklayer anymore. The Access to HE course was the first step towards my becoming a research scientist.

The staff at Bournemouth and Poole College were incredibly committed and enthusiastic teachers. They were fully aware that my reason for taking the course was to gain entry to university, and as such tailored my tuition to suit my specific needs. The whole experience was thoroughly enjoyable. The other students were all of the same mindset; they were there to change their career pathways. There was a good atmosphere of mutual support, and to this day I am still in contact with many of my classmates.

My commitment was unquestioned

Upon completing my Access to HE course, I applied to three universities, all of which recognised that I was someone who had made a conscious choice to return to education, and that my commitment was unquestioned. At my interview at the University of Southampton I was told that mature students consistently out-performed their counterparts who had come directly from sixth form, something that I saw for myself to be true. Mature students at university have a different experience to the majority of students but a very rewarding one nonetheless.

I was incredibly nervous about starting university but found that I was better prepared than most students, as the Access to HE Diploma had specifically trained me in academic procedures that were invaluable. In fact, my first year at university was comparable to my Access to HE experience in terms of difficulty and scheduling.

Every day I move a step closer to achieving my dream

Having completed my master's I am currently studying towards a PhD. It's been a long road but I am now funded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council and Jaguar Land Rover, so every day I move a step closer to achieving my dream.

I would encourage people considering Access to HE to first decide upon the degree they wish to study, and then discuss which specific Access to HE Diploma to pursue with the staff at their local college.