From 2+2 degree to MA scholarship: Carol shares her story about returning to education.



A Centre for Lifelong Learning student has been awarded a postgraduate scholarship from the Politics and International Studies Department at the University of Warwick.  Having completed her 2+2 degree with us, Carol Leach will be studying for an MA in Research in Politics & International Studies. She tells us about her scholarship and her experiences of studying so far.


First of all, would you be able to explain a bit about the scholarship and how you were selected for it?

The scholarship is awarded by PAIS (Politics and International Studies) Department at The University of Warwick. There are only four sponsorships of £5,000 awarded to Home and EU students (with a further four being allocated to international students) so I was absolutely thrilled to be one of the chosen. The sponsorship is deducted directly from the MA tuition fees.  I had to submit an application which included a personal statement of 800 words, before the deadline of 28 April 2017. Each application is judged on two main criteria.  Firstly, on ‘outstanding academic performance’ (weighted at 70%) and secondly on ‘outstanding case for support’ (30%).  This was not a means-tested award, so not judged on the student’s financial position.  I really did not think that my application would be successful given that there were only four available.  I was absolutely over the moon when I received the email informing me that I’d been chosen to receive the award it was a great feeling knowing that a high standing university like Warwick had faith in my academic abilities


What did you do before you joined the Centre for Lifelong Learning and what was your motivation in deciding to return to education?

I have been working since I finished my education in 1975, and left with a handful of GCE ‘O’ levels. I decided that academia wasn’t for me and rather than re-sit those exams I had failed, I chose to work, initially in office administration. It was important for me at the time to earn my own money.  Further along my career path, and after many deviations, I worked as a professional photographer and eventually ran my own studio.  After the financial collapse and crisis of 2007/2008 it became harder to earn sufficient money to support the business, myself and my business partner, and it was at this point that I decided I had to look into finding an alternative career path which was difficult for me as I loved being a photographer.  Going back into further education seemed the only option open to me, as most jobs seemed to require a degree of some sort or another.  I was pretty anxious and unsure of whether I would be able to ‘learn’ and retain information, at my age, so first off I undertook an evening course at my local college to learn medical terminology, which proved to me that I could indeed remember ‘stuff’.  This success drove me on and I found out about CLL’s 2+2 degree online, after much googling.


What have you enjoyed about your course?

I’ve enjoyed the whole experience of learning, it’s almost addictive. I have loved meeting other students like myself, out of tertiary education and returning later on in life, and also particularly at Warwick, the cultural diversity. Working alongside other students from different walks of life has been extremely stimulating and rewarding. I have also enjoyed the broad scope of the course, which has meant ‘dipping in’ to certain topics, and trying them out before proceeding to a key theme at Warwick. Politics and particularly International Politics inspired me, and four years ago I felt that politics would be an interesting topic to pursue.  I guess I was right in that respect given Brexit, Trump and the current hung parliament.  I hadn’t any real expectations of the course, mainly because it was unknown territory to me.  However, I went into it feeling that whatever the eventual outcome, I would hopefully enjoy the experience.  I think at heart I had always wanted to do a degree, but had never had the opportunity.


Have you thought about what you will be doing after you finish with education?

When I finish my MA at PAIS, I plan to continue with PhD study. However, I am looking for work now that supplements my learning and reflects my interests, something that would hopefully develop into a career later on.  My career, and PhD aspirations rest in research in the socio-political sphere, with the hope of working as a research assistant or perhaps working with a local MP.  A full-time career in politics is definitely within reach.  I am happy to see what the future brings.

Further information about the 2+2 Degree Pathway can be found on our website.

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