‘Picture it, Sicily 1932’! Actually, think more Hinckley 2014, when I was given details of the 2+2 degree from the University of Warwick. I had always regretted not carrying on with my education after leaving school, but I made some poor choices, and it did not happen because I had a job and commitments. When I looked at the course and the variety and options available it really appealed to me, so I applied. I had an interview and was accepted to start the degree at North Warwickshire and South Leicestershire college where I spent 2 years. The first year gave us all an introduction to the core subjects, politics, sociology, research methods and health and social policy. It was the second year where it all began to mesh together and I did a project on a policy introduced by the Conservative Government of Margaret Thatcher, this policy was Section 28 of the Local Government Act 1988. As part of the project, I learnt the joys of researching and discovering why things happened; how the media influenced what people thought and how government reacted. I still remember a comment made by the course leader when I said everything I read led me to want to read more- the comment was this is how a PhD starts.
Years three and four were spent on campus at the University where there was so much choice about what to study. I decided to study what interested me and it is hard to pinpoint my favourite, but one module, Widening Participation in Higher Education led to the topic for my final year dissertation. My interests were definitely drawn to how much inequality there is in the world and how destructive it is to blame people for the situation they find themselves in. Most of the modules I chose showed how these inequalities are rife for example how healthy high-quality food is unaffordable for many, maybe we were to blame for the ‘Horse Meat scandal’. I was also lucky enough to meet a range of people on the course with a variety of interests and saw some of them change significantly. One example was a woman who had never voted but after our politics classes in years 1 and 2 became very politically engaged, another friend even shifted their political allegiance.
As my undergraduate studies drew towards an end, I really wanted to get into the world of research so I could influence policy. Therefore, I applied for and was accepted onto a MA in the sociology department called Social Research and from there was accepted onto a PhD course looking at the benefits of employers providing good work in low pay sectors. This is a topic that fits in with my work experience and my beliefs that everyone should be paid a fair day’s pay for a fair day’s work.
I have never regretted taking the decision to start a degree and it has changed me in many ways- all for the better. I have become more understanding, confident and inquisitive. When I read a newspaper or see the television news, I question the sources and the bias of the organisation reporting. Overall, the last 7 years have left me with ‘what I call’ 2 degrees. ‘Such Fun!’
If you don’t understand the jokes, they are shamelessly ripped off from the Golden Girls and BBC TV’s Miranda.
About the author
This blog was written by Jon Winfield, an alumnus from the 2+2 Degree Pathway.