Access to HE: The next steps to University

Student Stories

“I never thought I would be here now… If ten years ago you’d told me this was what I would be doing with my life, I’d have laughed at you”.

Donna Coleman, a Criminology student and Mum of three, is on track to live her dreams after turning her back on a life of zero hour contracts in catering, and taking up a place at the University of Northampton.

Donna, now 35, was exhausted with struggling to make ends meet and even having to turn to food banks to keep her three sons fed.  Frustrated at a lack of opportunity she was keen to find a pathway to a better life.

Donna turned to a friend who asked her, if she could do anything with her life right now, what would she do?

Following this deep conversation she realised her true passion was in Criminology and Criminal History, and investigated her options for progressing in these areas, and discovered the University of Northampton’s Criminology course.

Donna did not have a great deal of formal qualifications from school, and was worried she wouldn’t be able to gain access to this course, but after some research, she found out about the Access to HE Diploma. After she finished her college course she successfully applied to study Criminology at the University of Northampton.

“As a mature student I had been out of education for quite a long time and also having had my eldest child at a young age I had not completed my GCSEs so I needed to develop my education before applying to university. The Access to HE course allowed me to gain the education level I needed to be able to obtain a place at university. It also gave me experience of researching for assignments, writing essays, referencing, deadlines and sitting exams, which has been invaluable since starting my degree.”

Donna hopes to one day work with victims of domestic violence, and not content with just studying, she is boosting her CV with voluntary work at Victim Support.

Transforming lives + inspiring change