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Nick Petford

University Vice-Chancellor


Every day, I see how the power of education can transform lives - people of all ages and backgrounds who've had different life experiences. And I'm one of them - someone who left school with virtually no qualifications to becoming Vice-Chancellor of a university.
Timeline - 1984: Science Access course, Southwark College 1987: BSc Geology, Goldsmiths, University of London  1995-2006: Professor, Kingston University. 2006-2010: Pro Vice-Chancellor, Bournemouth University 2010: Vice-Chancellor, University of Northampton

Nick's story

I wasn't a particularly diligent child at school - I left school at 16 with a handful of low CSEs and went to work at a local factory. I never received any careers' advice at school about going to university, it just wasn’t expected of people from my kind of background.


But my life totally changed after I saw a poster for the Access course at the Job Centre saying that you could get a degree with no qualifications. Up until then I was kind of coasting, doing relatively low-level, manual jobs. Of course, there's nothing wrong with those sort of jobs - it's just not the career path that I had envisaged.


I've always been a big fan of astronomy. It was the moon landings that really inspired me which is why I decided to study for a science Access course and went on to study a Geology undergraduate degree, followed by a PhD and DSc.


So, what would I say to anybody thinking of going down the Access to HE route?


Just do it, you've got nothing to lose!


Every day, I see how the power of education can transform lives - people of all ages and backgrounds who've had different life experiences. And I'm one of them - someone who left school with virtually no qualifications to becoming Vice-Chancellor of a university. You can change your life too - just dive in and embrace education, and the rewards will come thick and fast.