Graduate who returned to education after twenty years graduates with a first class honours at the Hugh Baird University Centre

After 20 years away from the classroom, Hugh Baird University Centre student, Catherine Coburn is celebrating thanks to graduating with a first class honours degree in Business and Management.

After becoming a new mum, Catherine decided that she wanted to return to education in order to put herself in a position to secure a better paid job to help her provide a brighter future for her family.

Catherine enquired at the Hugh Baird University Centre about the qualifications needed to get onto a degree and was positively surprised that she could be accepted onto a degree course thanks to her previous career experience in management.

Catherine said:

In the beginning I was certain I wasn’t clever enough to pass the degree, let alone be accepted onto a degree course. I did my GCSEs in 1999 and that was the end of my education. I felt sick waiting for my grade for the first assignment I submitted. However, when I got my result, I’d achieved 73%! This really gave me a confidence boost and from then on I started shaking off the doubts I had about myself. I now feel able to take on any task or challenge and I have made myself a rule to always say yes to a challenge or an opportunity.

Reflecting on the time she spent at the Hugh Baird University Centre, Catherine added:

My tutors encouraged me throughout my time at the University Centre and challenged me on the negative beliefs I had about myself. The tutors and my classmates felt like family, we celebrated our highs and supported each other through the difficult times. Lessons were engaging and fun and we also got to meet with industry experts to help us to get ready for our next steps.

Courses delivered at the University Centre are all approved by the University of Central Lancashire, meaning students leave with a degree from one of the North West’s best universities. Courses are often more reasonably priced and students from the local area don’t incur the costs of living away from home.

The Centre also prides itself on the support it provides to its students as well as the quality of the provision it delivers. The University Centre is one of an elite group of higher education providers in the UK who have been awarded TEF Gold Status. The Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF) was introduced in 2017 to provide evidence about the performance of the higher education sector in the UK.

Catherine said:

I received a bursary in my first year which enabled me to purchase the necessary equipment required for my course. The IT Support department gave us extra IT lessons in order to help the less computer literate students improve their skills and get to the level required. This was really beneficial to me and other mature learners on the course. I had no idea about spreadsheets or PowerPoint before I started. Now I love to put presentations together and I use spreadsheets for a whole range of different projects I work on.

When asked about what advice she would give to anyone thinking about applying for a degree course at the Hugh Baird University Centre, Catherine said:

Don’t think about it, just do it! When I was accepted onto the degree, I wondered what on earth someone like me was thinking signing up to a degree course. I felt like I was crazy and that I was bound to fail. Three years on, I’ve left with a first class honours degree, a new found confidence and a whole new group of friends.

Colette Mawdsley, Dean of Higher Education at the Hugh Baird University Centre, commented on Catherine’s achievement:

I am extremely proud of what Catherine has achieved during her time with us. Her story is typical of many of the students who join us. Many think that getting a degree is something that is beyond them. But the teaching team here work extremely hard to support and help students to excel themselves. I wish Catherine luck with her journey and I know she will continue to do well.

The Business and Management courses at the Hugh Baird University Centre are approved by the University of Central Lancashire (UCLan). For more information please visit: or call 0151 353 4444.

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