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1st March 2021

During National Careers Week (1st – 5th March) York College is celebrating the benefits of Adult Learning, especially for those studying Access to Higher Education (HE) diplomas, wanting to access a degree course, or higher-level qualification, to find their way to a prosperous career.

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Returning to education, perhaps to up-skill or change career direction entirely, has never been so important. With the pandemic creating uncertainty in some industry sectors it is welcome news that adult students (aged 19+) can apply to study Access to HE diplomas in a range of much-needed vocational pathways; Education Professions for those wanting to pursue a teaching degree, Health Science Professions leading to degrees in nursing and midwifery amongst others in the health and social care sector, Humanities and Social Sciences leading to degrees in history, sociology and social policy, English literature, philosophy and law, Creative Media leading to degrees in art and design and Science enabling study of maths, biology, chemistry and physics. New Access courses coming soon to the College’s portfolio are, Policing, Medicine, Social Work, Creative Performance, and L2 Pre Access course.

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Access courses can change lives, as demonstrated by firefighter James Sayer who decided to completely re-train to become a paramedic. James has not looked back since returning to education in 2016 to study Access to Health Science Professions - achieving distinctions in every module. The Access Diploma enabled James to progress to Sheffield Hallam University where he graduated with a First Class honours degree in Paramedic Science in 2020. He secured a job working as a Paramedic with Yorkshire Ambulance Service and soon decided to take his medical studies a step further, progressing to University Huddersfield to study an MSc in Forensic Science. Ultimately James hopes to pursue a career in Medicine and become a doctor. James says his career change became a reality the moment he enrolled on the Access course, which opened up all the doors he needed to succeed: “Without doubt, the support and encouragement I received throughout my time at York College gave me the confidence, ability and academic skillset required to excel on my degree programme. I thoroughly enjoyed the professional learning environment and the opportunity to study with likeminded mature students, from a variety of different social and professional backgrounds.”

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Marie Neal-Smith, Adult Curriculum Manager at York College says: “It should not be under-estimated that over 20,000 Access to HE students successfully achieve their qualification and progress to university courses across the UK, and at York College we are very proud to be a part of that. We see people returning to education for many different reasons, the most common being to upskill, retrain or to kick-start a change in their career, or to simply resume their education because the time is right for them to study. Access to HE Diplomas are a great way for adults to return to education when they don’t have the traditional qualifications a university might expect to see on their application. They are one-year programmes, equivalent to Level 3, and prepare adult students fully for the academic demands of university and beyond, with 90% of graduates with an Access Diploma being employed or going on to further study 6 months after graduation. Access Diplomas are not only excellent for building skills and knowledge in a particular subject area, to provide a stepping stone to Higher Education, but also to provide a real-life comradery to learning. Side by side, with other like-minded students in similar positions promotes life-long friendships, support networks and a vibrant community of learning.”

If you want to go to university, but feel you might lack the entry qualifications, or you are worried that you might not be able to cope with the demands of degree-level study, then an Access course can help. The Access pathways at York College cover a range of vocational areas and are studied for around 14 hours a week over 32 weeks and involve a range of activities relevant to the pathway being studied. Access courses are loan fundable, and students who progress to complete a degree have their loan written off entirely.

During National Careers Week the Careers team at York College is focusing on the national theme of HOPE. Their work across the week looks at positivity for the future, growing industry areas, skills, employability and career profiles of staff and students in the College. The Week aims to lift spirits and focus upon the future in a positive and empowered mindset.

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