Karen Reid

University Diploma in Teaching Qualification for Further Education (pre-service)

What attracted you to study this programme at the University of Stirling?

I have worked as a hairdresser for 28 years; 25 of which I have been self-employed. My journey into teaching began naturally through training junior hairdressers in the salon. This gave me a taste for teaching and although there are mixed views about the necessity of obtaining a teaching qualification within the industry, I strongly believe anyone with the responsibility of teaching should be formally trained. Initially, I was unsure if I even had the skills to study, being more practical than academically minded, so I began shadowing at my local college and it was then that I knew it was the right path for me to teach within the further education environment.

Stirling came highly recommended by colleagues who also studied here and the campus was breath taking. Stirling was also the only University that offered the opportunity to study for a qualification in further education without already being in a formal teaching role.

Which aspects of the programme did you enjoy the most?

The programme was very well rounded and had the perfect and essential mix of theory and practice. The programme staff were also extremely supportive and recognised our diverse backgrounds. For me, it was great to be amongst others from different professions such as childcare, television and music, in a welcome and an inclusive learning environment, as I learnt so much.  

Would you say your degree has made you more employable and enhanced your ability to progress?

Very much so. Following two failed attempts for the same teaching job at a local college (one before and one during my studies) I secured the position, at my third attempt, after graduation. My professional development, experience and passion were all enhanced and this was recognised.  A degree may not be essential field but it sets you apart.

What advice would you give to anyone considering this programme?

If, like me, you are without an academic background and are more practically proficient, I would strongly recommend doing some research on assignment writing as although the staff and University’s Student Learning Services team were very helpful, it would have otherwise been a difficulty adjustment.  I would also recommend getting some teaching experience such as shadowing in a local college as this really did boost my confidence. I even went out on placement to the same college that I initially shadowed at so building up your contacts is very useful. But the most important advice I would give is to believe in yourself and your abilities and you will surprise yourself at what hard work, confidence and determination can help you achieve. I enjoyed my time at Stirling University although I found it challenging at times. I feel I have grown personally as well as academically and will never forget my time and experience at the University. 

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