Here at Bradford, we believe that it’s never too late to pursue your academic goals, and we provide tailored support to a wide range of people who might face barriers when entering higher education. This includes adult learners – students who have had a break from education and/or are applying with non-traditional qualifications.
In this blog, Caroline Priestley, our Senior Outreach and Recruitment Officer chats to us about her role and the ways in which her team and the wider university support adult learners in returning to learn.
Tell us a bit about your role
My role is to support students with their progression to university. This often starts when they are thinking about returning to learn and they want to know whether their qualifications will be enough to apply or whether they need to complete further study.
I chat to them about what they can do to gain the level 3 qualifications that they need. I also support them with advice on courses and the application process. I visit students in their colleges and do talks about personal statements, interview support and introduce them to current adult learners. We offer this support online as well as to individuals and groups.
Why do you offer tailored support to adult learners?
It is important to support adult learners as they have been out of education possibly for some time and are not sure what they need to apply or how the application process works. We want to ensure that everyone has the chance to be able to do a degree if they want to do so.
Returning to learning can be daunting as well, so we want to make sure that they have access to information and lots of opportunities to ask questions to staff, students and alumni. It is also important that they make the right decision about which course to study, as they have often given up employment to return to learn and it is a big commitment for them.
What support do you offer for adult learners?
We offer support right from the first thoughts about studying a degree, to enrolment and beyond, and many adult learners often become student ambassadors for us. We offer talks in colleges and also one-to-one support. This includes advice about qualifications, the application process, student finance, degree choices, the transition to university and the chance to meet current students to hear about their journey through college to university and beyond. We are also there as an ongoing support throughout the application process to help students celebrate good news, or to offer advice if things are not going to plan.
Why is the University of Bradford a great place to be an adult learner?
Bradford has a lot of adult learners, around 25% of our students are adult learners. It is a friendly, supportive campus where adult learners can really thrive, make new friends and try things they have never done before. We have students who take up new challenges through our sports clubs and societies, that they would not have had the opportunity to do before.
We also have excellent support in place for students during their studies, with support channels available through their peers, academics and teams across the university, including Counselling and Disability support. We even have our own Nursery and on campus parking. Our Careers team are fantastic too and support students both during and after their time with us.
What’s your favourite thing about working with adult learners?
You can really make a difference to people’s lives in so many ways. This might be a small difference to someone who just wants some course advice, to making a huge impact by supporting students to gain the confidence to believe that they can return to learn and then helping them through the application process. I enjoy meeting students at Open Days and events and being able to give them that confidence that they can do it.
What’s been your highlight working with adult learners?
The highlight for me is always gradation time when I see students and their families celebrating their success and finding out what they are going on to do next. It is the end of their journey as a student and the start of a journey into a new career. Some students I have known for four or five years by this point and all I have to do at graduation is make sure that we have their contact details so they can share their experiences as alumni!
What advice would you give to someone thinking of returning to education?
Just go for it, do your research and chat to current students and alumni, find out more and enjoy all that being a student brings to you and your family. Make the most of all opportunities when you are at university and enjoy meeting new people from all over the world. Returning to learn is an amazing experience and opens up so many doors for future careers.