Stirling students earn passport to brighter future

Back to news

Almost 50 students will begin degree courses this year after completing a University of Stirling access to higher education programme.

Many of the students will start their undergraduate degree courses at Stirling in September, after successfully completing the University’s Access to Degree Studies (ADS) programme. The ADS programme provides students, who need to achieve up-to-date qualifications to gain entry to university, with an alternative route into higher education.

Access to Degree Studies graduation

Access to Degree Studies graduation.

At this year’s ADS celebration ceremony, three students received the inaugural Jim Bradley Award – named after a late, highly-respected Stirling academic – while a further 12 students received awards from John Smith’s bookshop. The three Jim Bradley Award winners were: Melinda Clark (Social Science); Luigi Cristofaro (Science); and Emma Jayne McDonnell (Nursing).


Dr Dalene Swanson, Director of Access to Degree Studies, said: “The University is committed to widening participation and community access, in line with Scottish Government policy, and our Access to Degree Studies course plays an important role in driving this agenda.

“This year, for the first time, we presented Jim Bradley Awards to three outstanding students. Jim was a prominent and loved member of the University community, who was very dedicated to his students, and we were delighted his wife Yvonne, daughters Jane, Jennifer, Katie and Hannah, and granddaughter Rebecca, were able to join us to present the awards.”

Paul McMenemy, who will graduate as a Doctor of Philosophy this week, after completing a PhD in Mathematics, told how he was inspired by Jim to enrol at Stirling.

Paul said: “I was actually late in applying for entry to the Access programme but Jim Bradley met with and interviewed me. He asked me to complete the entry assessment over a weekend and, thankfully, I was successful.

“I don’t think I would have returned to university if it wasn’t for Jim. It was a special moment when he met me the day I graduated with my Honours undergraduate degree in 2012.”


Jim’s wife Yvonne said: “I think one of Jim’s strengths – and why so many students could identify with him – was, because he had been where they were, he believed so passionately that education should be for everyone.

“He would have been so chuffed and honoured that an award – particularly given to Access students – would be named after him.”

ADS 2017 student Christopher Daly said: “As a child, I was in care and schooling was disrupted by constantly moving care placements. The Access course is a chance for me to move on to achieve a degree in Sociology and Social Policy: I'm looking forward to the challenge ahead.”

Fellow student Rachel Easton added: “Dr Swanson was inspiring and supportive teacher, and the course was a thought-provoking and life-changing experience which has allowed me to grow in confidence and maturity, finding the person that I am within.”

Background information

Media enquiries to Lachlan Mackinnon, Communications Manager, on 01786 466 436, or