Students graduate to higher level success


East Berkshire College was full of smiles and cheers last week as 40 Higher Education students from its Langley and Windsor colleges celebrated their successes and graduated in front of family, friends, lecturers and the Mayor of Slough, Councillor Mohammed Rasib.

The prestigious ceremony, which saw students aged from 20 to 55 don the traditional mortar board cap and gown to receive their scrolls, marked their hard work in achieving a university-level qualification. The students graduated from a diverse range of higher level courses including HNCs, HNDs and Foundation Degrees in subjects ranging from computing to performing arts and engineering to teacher training.

James Cooper (24, from Maidenhead), who has graduated with an HND in Computing and Systems Development from Langley College, said: "I have studied at the College for 8 years, originally starting on an ECDL computing course, working my way up from Level 1 right through to the HND (Level 5) qualification. Studying at the College has been a fantastic experience and well worth it. I'm currently working for European Electronique in Oxford and I certainly wouldn't be able to do my job without an HND. Gaining a university-level qualification is essential to get ahead in the IT industry."

Lauren Elliot (21, from Slough), who is one of the first to graduate from the new HND in Performing Arts at Windsor College, explains: "I wanted to take my studies further, but university wasn't for me. Studying an HND at college is a great alternative. You get more one-to-one time than at university, the lecturers are amazing and the facilities are great. Because the course is flexible, I was even able to work while I studied. It's been hard work, but I'm so pleased I did it. I'm now a step closer to my goal of becoming a drama teacher."

Engineering graduate, Matthew Ramdeen (aged 26), was celebrating completing his HND after balancing working in London with studying at Langley College for the last two years. "I never thought I'd be here today graduating," explains Matthew. "It just shows what you can achieve with a bit of hard work and determination. I think education changes your whole perspective on life and helps you grow as a person. Studying while working has been tough, but achieving a higher level qualification is vital for my career."

Jahseen Foster, who didn't let dyslexia hold her back from achieving her Foundation Degree in Working with Children & Young People, was delighted to graduate with a distinction. She explains: "No one in my family has ever really been to school or college, so I'm very proud to have graduated. I believe it is really important to have qualifications as well as experience and skills. You definitely get more opportunities and greater respect from colleagues when you have a higher qualification."

Jahseen continues: "The great thing about the College is that they support the whole you, not just your studies. Being diagnosed with dyslexia really knocked my confidence, but my college tutor was so supportive. She gave me techniques to help and showed me that I could do anything if I put my mind to it."

Jahseen is now supporting young people with special educational needs at Manor Green School, while continuing her own educational journey at Reading University and topping up her qualification to a full honours degree.

Kate Webb, Principal and CEO of East Berkshire College, said: "Our Higher Education ceremony is one of the highlights of the academic year. Many of those graduating have studied whilst working or looking after families, or both, which makes their achievements even more incredible. They have made the most of their opportunities and worked hard to achieve their goals, taking their skills and careers to a higher level."

The College is fast becoming a centre of excellence for higher level skills in the area, having established strong links with employers, invested £30m in its facilities and received the QAA quality mark. In fact, the National Student Survey (NSS) 2015 on Higher Education providers has rated East Berkshire College as one of the top 25 colleges and universities in the UK for student satisfaction, ranking it above both Oxford and Cambridge Universities.

With the cost of university education on the rise and more competition than ever before for top jobs, studying for a university-level qualification at college is a more convenient and affordable alternative.

In response to the growing demand for higher level skills, the College has continued to expand its range of Higher Education courses and celebrated an impressive 94% pass rate last year. The College now offers a wide range of part-time and full-time Higher Education courses, which include HNCs, HNDs, Higher Apprenticeships and Foundation Degrees in various subjects from hospitality to computing.

For further information on East Berkshire College and its range of Higher Education and Access to HE courses, click here or call 01753 793000.

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