For some, going to university might be the unquestioned next step following A-Levels, with higher education a familial ‘right of passage’. But for others, it may be virtually impossible. A huge array of factors might prevent entry into higher education, from costs, to family responsibility, to a lack of practical support.
Of course, higher education may not be the best path for everyone or suit their personal goals. If things were fair, this would be a decision we could make for ourselves.
However, access to higher education is really exclusive, and so too are the leg-ups that follow. From getting better-paid jobs to personal growth, higher education can bring life-changing opportunities.
Breaking down the barriers of entry into higher education is imperative. Some initial steps could involve more contextual entry requirements, more scholarships, and more support to students with other responsibilities.
There is also the fact that some people might just not feel higher educational institutes are a place for them, and changing this is where we come in.
These last few months at Silverfish we have had the privilege of working with The Bloomsbury Institute, a London-based university, to help achieve their vision of making access to higher education more equal.
Their mission statement is simple: to equip individuals with the tools necessary to define their own success.
Through talking with staff and students, we saw how these words were turned into action. We heard stories from individuals who had previously felt they’d ‘missed’ their chance, and how the support offered by the Institute opened the door to studying and paving their own future.
We encountered countless individuals whose stories showed just how important increasing access is.
Veronica’s experience in particular stuck with us, having worked as a nurse in the NHS for 20 years whilst raising her child. A few years back, Veronica decided she no longer wanted to work for anyone else and sought a new challenge, and through the support offered at Bloomsbury Institute, she has now graduated with a degree in law. She cites wanting to inspire her son as a big motivation for her- but being able to showcase her story will mean many others are inspired too.
It is perhaps best to end with Veronica’s own words: “You’re never too old to learn. And whatever stage you are in life, you can achieve.”