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Stirling students celebrate first step in academic career

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John Smith bookshop prize winners with Dr Dalene Swanson

More than 40 students will begin undergraduate courses this year after passing the University of Stirling’s Access to Degree Studies course.

The course is designed for those who have few or no formal qualifications, or been out of formal education for some time, but are interested in studying at university.

They can choose one of three pathways - nursing, science or social science – each of which leads onto a variety of degree choices.

Group of students standing on stairs

Access to Degree Studies students with lecturers

Dr Dalene Swanson, Director of Access to Degree Studies, said: “This programme has the ability to change students’ lives, not only in terms of enabling them to gain access to university, but by giving them the confidence to build on their life skills and achieve their full potential.”

Twelve of the students who passed the course this summer were given a John Smith’s bookshop award in recognition of their academic achievement across the year.

A further three students – one from each of the academic pathways – were given a Jim Bradley award for most outstanding achievement in the Access programme. It also recognised their dedication to the programme and their support of fellow students throughout the course.

The award is in memory of former course director Jim Bradley, who was committed to the principles of widening participation throughout his life.

They were presented to Bruno Jordan, Mark Reid and Maitland Kelly by Jim’s wife Yvonne and daughter Hannah.

Group of three men with certificates

Jim Bradley award winners: Bruno Jordan, Mark Reid and Maitland Kelly

Among former students who have gone onto further study after completing the Access course is Janieann McCracken.

She graduated with a Postgraduate Certificate in Learning and Teaching in Higher Education last month and works as a Lecturer in Communications, Media and Culture at the University of Stirling.

“It literally changed my life,” she said. “I graduated in 2005, went on to work for the BBC, came back to Stirling to do a bit of teaching and never left.

“Who knew that a woman with only two O Levels could have achieved all this?”

Head shot of Janieann McCracken
It literally changed my life. Who knew that a woman with only two O Levels could have achieved all this?
Janieann McCracken Lecturer
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