Tj Host

Wedding Ideas & Inspiration
Foundation Year in Arts and Humanities – Engagement Awards 2014

Foundation Year in Arts and Humanities – Engagement Awards 2014

I started off in a chip shop
which was when I was 16. Then I joined the Army. That was for three years. Then I worked
in a pharmaceutical warehouse. That was quite interesting,
but that didn’t work out very well. When you’re running a business
and you run the home and… you’re looking after a child
with special needs and… Then the marriage broke down so that brought further problems
I had to deal with. So it was just busy.
It was just so busy. So I just looked on the website
and I saw this course that was for people
who don’t have any qualifications and not been to university. I’d bookmarked it on my screen
and I kept going back and looking at it and I thought,
“Well, why don’t I apply?” It’s the first time… This course
is starting the foundation year. So I applied to do it,
not thinking whether I’d get on it or not, but as a positive thing to do, trying to make positive changes,
movements in my life and where I was, and I was offered a place. We felt right from the start,
and one of the motivations was this huge class of people
out there who were ready
to come on to education in some sense but didn’t have
the formal qualifications that would allow them
to apply on that route. But also they may not have the particlar
little bits of technical expertise like essay writing
or how to participate in seminars that students coming from more
conventional backgrounds might have. All that was needed to prepare them
to do an undergraduate degree was a year-long course
where those skills were developed and they developed the confidence needed
to interact well and get everything out of university. The idea that those students, because they didn’t have
the formal qualifications, should thereby be excluded,
seemed crazy to us and we wanted to do something
that would knock down the barriers that led to that exclusion. You go into this room full of strangers who are all there
cos they want to learn, which is good, but you sit there and you’re like,
“What am I doing? Why am I here?” “I’m back at school.
I should have a job.” “I’ve been in the professional world
for five, six years.” But then you get into it
and realise it’s going to be fun. We had two compulsory days,
Monday and Tuesday. Monday we had lectures in the morning and these lectures came
from a variety of…departments. So we might have a lecture
on the history of art, we might have a lecture
on anthropology, about the racism, apartheid,
in South Africa, things like that. That is just a little tip to tell you
what the lectures were like. In the afternoon the same day
we had something called a seminar in which we then looked
at what we had learned from the lecture that morning. So it was an opportunity to mix
with the other students and the lecturer who was facilitating, to look to see what we learned, what we had gained
from the lecture in morning, to ask any questions, to share ideas
and to network with other people. So that was really good.
These seminar groups were small groups whereas the lecture group
was all 25 of us. I just enjoyed being back in learning
and actually using my brain again. It’s not like the smash you
with loads of hard work straightaway, and loads of study. They actually ease you in really gently,
help you along the way. It just expands your mind and makes you look at the world
differently. Very, very differently, because we absorb arts and humanities
without realising we’re doing it. It’s so easy with a lot of these issues
within a university to think about them –
sometimes necessarily – but to think about them in abstract terms, and I think the course
also kept reminding us how real world
so much of the arts and humanities is, how connected up it is
to urgent questions people are thinking about every day. The fact this course has said, “Yeah, okay, we are open
to people like you. Come along”, that has to be a positive thing. We have proved something
to that university, that a course like this that includes
people from such diverse backgrounds can be included in an elite university. It’s now opening that up
to all the other departments. So I will go through that university
going, “I was a pioneer on the Arts
and Humanities Foundation course” and know that’s something
to be really proud of. We feel it’s done
exactly what we hoped it would do. We set out with this goal of getting
together a group of people who couldn’t apply because of the standard admissions
procedures. They just didn’t have qualifications
to apply, but clearly had all the abilities
and personality and dispositions that would lead them to get a huge amount
out of a university education. Now that they are about to progress
onto their undergraduate degree we feel they’re prepared, they’re ready
to contribute to the university. I think they’re going to contribute
enormously to the university. They’re going to change it
in exactly the ways that you would hope. They’re going to make it a more diverse
student body and by doing that, all these great experiences we’ve been
talking about having in the seminars, they’ll give to other people
outside this course. They’ll give to all the other people
on undergraduate courses in the faculty.

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