Stirling students access a bright future

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Dr Dalene Swanson with the Access programme students and staff
Students and staff from the University of Stirling's Access to Degree Studies programme.

More than 40 students are starting degree courses this year after completing a University of Stirling access to higher education programme.

Many of the students will have begun their undergraduate degree courses at Stirling, after successfully completing the University’s Access to Degree Studies programme. The Access programme provides people who may not have traditionally considered higher education, with an alternative route into university.

The programme has been a long-running success at Stirling and students passing the programme with required grades are guaranteed a place at the University of Stirling, with pathways into Nursing and Science. A third route into Social Science is also available and has been popular with those going on to study a range of subjects including politics, criminology, history, education, and business.

This year, for the first time, a student has chosen to read law.

At this year’s Access celebration ceremony, three students received the annual Jim Bradley Award – named after a late, highly-respected Stirling academic. The three Jim Bradley Award winners were: Ryan Coyle (Social Science); Christopher Brough (Science); and Paula Hoggan and Chanchali Maharjan (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.

“Again, we were privileged to be able to recognise the top performing student in each area through the Jim Bradley Awards. These awards recognise those students who not only achieved highly academically, but also contributed positively to the learning of their peers.

“Jim was a prominent and loved member of the University community, whose own journey into further education was far from straightforward yet he recognised the important role it has to play in helping students achieve their potential.”

The value of the Access programme at Stirling can be seen in the number and experiences of previous students who have completed it.

Karen McIntosh completed the Access programme before going on to graduate with a first-class degree in Social Work from Stirling in 2018. She said: “At the age of 22, I decided I wanted to be a social worker but, as somebody who left school at 16 with no qualifications, didn’t think it would be possible.

“After seeing the Access programme advertised, I decided to go for it. It really set me up for university life and the support and guidance given around writing and research were invaluable as I studied.

“I have now achieved my ambition and work in a Children and Families social work team, so I would like to thank the University for the encouragement and support they have given me.”

Maitland Kelly, 53, completed the Access programme after retiring from the Metropolitan Police and moving back to Stirling. He said: “Having pursued a career in London, I had always wanted to return to full time education.

“Given my age, I made the assumption that this would not be possible but the University of Stirling’s Access programme changed that. It has given me an opportunity I never thought was possible.

“It has positively changed my life, both academically and personally. I am now a 2nd year Undergraduate at the University of Stirling studying Criminology and Sociology. My future goal on graduating is to teach Access students and share my experiences.”