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JONName: Jon
Course: BA (Hons) Health and Social Policy [2+2]

In 2013 I was at ‘what I call’ a watershed in my life. After a somewhat turbulent couple of years I was sent the details of the 2+2-degree pathway at the University of Warwick. For a variety of reasons, the details remained in their envelope until sometime in 2014 when I decided to take the plunge and apply. After an interview and a short ‘test’ I was accepted onto the course at North Warwickshire and South Leicestershire College in Nuneaton (NWSLC)

On the first day I met someone who has become a close friend, our academic careers have to a great extent mirrored each other’s. I spent a happy two years at NWSLC where we learnt the basics of research methods along with groundings in key sociological themes, Politics and my favourite Health and Social Policy starting from 1601. What I think really shocked me was how Social Policy really doesn’t change that much, it just goes in cycles. We are now returning to the narrative of the ‘deserving’ and ‘undeserving’ poor. By the second year these four key components began to come together; they were no longer just four individual subjects but intertwined. During my first year, I clearly remember a conversation with one of the lecturers where he said I could get a first. My initial reaction was ‘are you completely mad’. My ambition was to get a degree and if fate was looking kindly on me I might get a 2:1 (to keep up with my two sisters who both went to university at 18; there is nothing like sibling rivalry).

Then in 2016 we made the leap to ‘big school’ and started studying at Warwick, I chose the Health and Social Policy pathway because Social Policy and Inequalities along with research were where my interests were. One module in particular fired my imagination, ‘Widening Participation in Higher Education’ and with encouragement from the course tutor I made that the topic of my final year dissertation, a 10,000 word project ‘What are the barriers mature students face when accessing Higher Education. 10,000 words sounds like a huge undertaking but with guidance and doing it one section at a time it is very possible. For me it was the cumulation of 4 years of study. I graduated in July 2019.

During my final year I realised I actually enjoyed learning and started to wonder if perhaps I could go further. I applied for a MA in Social Research, there is a theme here, Research. Amazingly, not only did I get a place I also was awarded a scholarship meaning all my fees were paid. The MA was hard work, but I enjoyed it, again the opportunity to do research, this time on ‘Looked After Children’ and their progression into Higher Education. It was during the MA year, an email was circulated about an opportunity for a fully funded PhD looking at what ‘good work’ looked like for people on low wages and precarious hours – in effect zero hours contracts. I spoke to my tutor and also the course tutor who had fired my imagination in CLL. They both agreed to provide references for me, and I applied. My thoughts were, the application process would be good experience; I did not think I would be offered the place even though the subject was exactly the type of work I wanted to do- policy focused. To my shock and delight, I was offered the place so here I am studying for a PhD; 5 ½ years after starting my 2+2 degree hoping to pass. It is and has been ‘Such Fun!’. *

*Thanks to Miranda Hart for the quotes.