Mature students, William and Imogen are taking advantage of a set of courses designed specifically for adults wishing to completely change career direction after a number of years out of the education system.

The Access to Higher Education Diploma is a one-year, level 3 intensive course for people aged over 19 that don't have the traditional entry requirements for degrees and other professional courses at a university.

William and Imogen are currently studying the Nursing and Healthcare Professions | Level 3 | Access to HE Diploma | LASER course at London South East Colleges. Both made the decision to change paths recently and embark on a career in the caring professions.

William, 31 from Balham, started his career in the British Army Ceremonial Unit. He worked with horses and spent a lot of his time taking part in official ceremonies such as the Queen’s Birthday Parade. After several years spent doing this, he knew it was time for a change of tack and began searching for a suitable route into what he really wanted to do - mental health nursing.

William says: “I was beginning to feel stuck in my job and didn’t know how to make changes without having to sit A Levels. Luckily, one of my friends recommended an Access course at London South East Colleges. After visiting their website, I found the perfect route for me.

“I’ve been on-course since last September and it has been a fantastic experience. The teaching is superb and the facilities are excellent. I’m particularly impressed with the number of online resources we have access to and the availability of the tutors; even outside of normal teaching hours. The course has given me a good insight into the nursing professions and I’m confident of entering university next year to specialise in mental health. Because of my military background, I think I will be well equipped to work in a caring role in the prison service.

“I have supported myself through the course by taking out an Advanced Learning Loan. What is great about this, is that when you progress to higher education and take out a student loan, the Advanced Learning Loan is written off. That means that your Access year is completely free.”

Imogen, 54 from Tunbridge, has decided to go for her dream career as a midwife. She has five children of her own and was inspired to go into this profession by a lady who acted as midwife to four of her five children's births.

Imogen says: “When I reached my 50th year, I was starting to think I’d finally missed the boat. It just didn’t seem feasible that I could turn a career in sales and marketing into midwifery. I didn’t have A Levels - particularly in the subjects that would be associated with nursing. After making several enquiries to university colleges around the south east, I was advised to take the access route as it could fast-track me into university.

“Because of my age, I was a little nervous that I wouldn’t be taken seriously and feared being the oldest in class. However, I get on great with all of my fellow students, several of whom are in the same age group as me, and we all help and support each other through our assignments. My tutor has told me that students taking the Access route are looked on very favourably by universities as they are still fresh from the education and training zone. You’re considered to be more up-to-date with modern practices and sector knowledge if you have a more specialised qualification as opposed to A Levels achieved ten or more years ago.

In September I will be progressing into university to train as a midwife. It is a life-long dream of mine and my true calling.”

If you have a burning ambition to completely change your career direction and go to university, we’d like to hear from you. Come along to one of our open events during June and July. Click here to learn more.

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