Gaining Access to Higher Education

Article excerpt

Byline: SARAH RICHARDSON

[bar] ONFIDENCE; culture; cash; other commitments -- there are many reasons why a potential undergraduate may dismiss the idea of pursuing a degree. Yet Newham College has developed a higher education faculty, Newham University Centre (NUC -- formerly University Centre Stratford), to give as many people as possible the opportunity to benefit from higher education.

Students come from very diverse cultures, and many do not have conventional educational backgrounds. Newham College is an open access institution, which means that all sections of the community are encouraged to study at the college, and all applicants will be offered a place on a suitable course. That place will be suitable to their needs and aspirations, and will be decided using objective criteria.

Students who are not ready for higher education will be offered a place on a course that will enable them to progress to higher education. Successful completion of a Level 3 course at Newham College will help the student gain a place on a higher education course at NUC or another higher education provider if they wish.

Dr David Arnaud, head of Newham University Centre, says: "We are a small-scale faculty, currently around 450 students, dedicated to providing a friendly atmosphere with lots of support and contact between lecturers and students.

The largest group any student is ever in is 50-60 students.

But most interaction with our lecturers is in much smaller groups such as seminars and one-to-one tutorials. This is a very different student experience than is often found in large universities where the individual can easily get lost.

"Our primary focus is on supporting students and effective teaching and learning. We have a dedicated student learning adviser and this semester -- given the challenging economic times students face -- we are going to engage an employability co-ordinator to help students prepare for employment."

Newham and the NUC welcome students with non-traditional backgrounds, including those who have not felt well served to date by education.

"We offer second chances for those willing to put in the work," says Dr Arnaud. "I myself only managed a D and E at A-level but graduated with a first-class degree and we believe that others can similarly develop given their hard work and our support."

NUC runs its degree programmes in collaboration with partner universities, including The Open University (OU). Newham College has institutional approval from the OU, which means that it is approved by The Open University as an appropriate organisation to offer higher education programmes leading to OU validated awards. …