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Students praise university kick-start degrees for laying career foundations


October 1 2015


Students on kick-start degrees at a North Wales university have praised the institution for helping them on the road to success.

Sarah Buckley and Isabel Rivas are just two of many people to have benefited from one of Glyndŵr University Wrexham’s kick-start options.

Both were daunted at the prospect of returning to education after years of working in other jobs, but they are delighted they took that decision and say enrolling on a foundation year - flowing directly into a three-year honours degree at Glyndŵr - was “the best decision they ever made”.

The pair added that other students should follow their lead and join universities across the country in joining via the kick-start route; initial benefits include being with contemporaries and within social groups and an academic environment that will support their longer term goals, as well as lecturers having a major stake and investment in the students’ success.

Mum-of-two Sarah, 34, and 29-year-old Isabel are both studying for a BEng (Hons) Renewable Energy and Sustainable Technologies and say the pathway to the qualification was made easier by having already joined the University and become part of the Glyndŵr family.

“I have two children so I needed flexibility and support, and Glyndŵr University has given me that,” said Australia-born Sarah, now living in Neston, Wirral.

“I was petrified to be going back into education as I hadn’t done anything like that since 1999 and I was scared of failure, but starting on the foundation year of a four-year integrated degree meant I got to know my lecturers early on in my first year - I felt comfortable in my surroundings.

“It’s also given me access to the student support and careers teams at an earlier stage, so when I am ready to take the next step in my life I will feel more prepared.”

She added: “It was the best decision I’ve made; I’m glad I did study the kick-start year first as I didn’t have a background in engineering and was wary of that. This route helped me gain that experience and education – it is a great route back into academic life.”

Now in their second year, the friends will graduate in 2017 and are already looking to the future.

Isabel, originally from Spain, said: “The wide range of options here means we will have more choice of which sector to go into.

“I was surprised at how quickly I settled in that first year because I had also not been education for a long time and we don’t have the same academic system in my country.

“Joining when we did and staying on for the four years means there was no upheaval, and we are now settled and really feel like we are doing well.”

Glyndŵr University Wrexham offers a range of foundation years leading to three-year honours in a variety of areas including education, art and design, engineering, business, sports, computing and psychology.

The kick-start year is designed to give people the skills and grounding to get the most from higher education.

Through the mix of modules taken students gain confidence, develop new skills, and gain knowledge which will give them the tools for success in their chosen degree.

However, Glyndŵr is not alone; universities across the country are providing thousands of students with the opportunity to study courses over an integrated four-year period, with early access to student support cited as one of the main reasons to choose higher education.

Marc Caldecott, President of the Students’ Guild at Glyndŵr University Wrexham, emphasised the point.

“The foundations years are designed as not only an introduction to the course but an introduction to academic skills such as writing essays and referencing, so it is particularly beneficial to mature students who feel they have left it too late to get back into education,” said Marc.

“Glyndŵr prides itself on the support it provides for its students; here you are not a number and I find most students feel a sense of belonging and community, which is obviously even further instilled in them if they join us for four years.”

Interim Vice-Chancellor, Professor Graham Upton, said studying a foundation year at university offers many benefits in advance of taking-on a full degree, notably having direct access to lecturers and higher education services, not having to search for accommodation and improving the prospects of acceptance because of the existing relationship and support from academic and operational staff.

“Our kick-start programmes have proven to be incredibly popular with people of all ages for several reasons, the most important being the care and attention we give to each student,” said Professor Upton.

“We make them feel welcome, which is important to someone who has perhaps not been in education for a while, or a prospective student who is disappointed with their grades and missed out previously.

“My message to them is this: a higher education should be for everyone, and at Glyndŵr University Wrexham that is the case. We are a widening access university at the heart of our community and the student is at the centre of everything we do – come and join us.”

For information on kick-start degrees at Glyndŵr University Wrexham, visit

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