Students' anger at course axe

By Danielle NuttallANGRY students claimed a college has turned its back on mature learners after scrapping a fast-track course that qualifies them for higher education.

By Danielle Nuttall

ANGRY students claimed a college has turned its back on mature learners after scrapping a fast-track course that qualifies them for higher education.

Suffolk College has announced it is to end the access to higher education course, which helps prepare mature students who hope to study for a diploma or a degree course.

The Ipswich-based college said its decision was partly for "efficiency" reasons, adding there were other routes open to mature students wanting to go into higher education.


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But the announcement has been met with anger from mature students, many of whom said they had been left with no option but to rethink their plans of a career.

One student, Katrina Williams, of The Street, Badwell Ash, near Bury St Edmunds, said: "The idea of the access course was to allow us to spend eight months gaining the equivalent of GCSEs, which a lot of us haven't got, to allow us to get on a degree or diploma course.

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"That has now been denied to us and it's left a lot of us in a dilemma. A lot of the girls on the course have families, mortgages and other life commitments, which doesn't allow them to do GCSEs for two years and then A-levels.

"The whole idea of the access course was to alleviate that. I am very angry. I am coming up to 30 and I don't want to be studying when I'm 35."

The 29-year-old, who currently works as a nursing assistant at the West Suffolk Hospital in Bury St Edmunds, hopes to train as an operational practitioner and work alongside doctors in theatre.

Julie Reeve, of Stratford Road, Ipswich, who was hoping to progress on to the access course with the aim of becoming a midwife, said she felt let down by the college.

The 32-year-old, who has three children, said: "For a college hoping to achieve university status, I think this is a stupid decision.

"How can they warrant getting rid of a course like this, when we are always being told that the Government wants to encourage people back into learning and professions such as nursing?

"It takes a lot of determination to go back into study when you're older – we have partners, homes, children, jobs to think about. They have made us feel over the hill, useless and worthless to anyone."

Susan Spencer, dean of faculty of management, art and sciences at Suffolk College, said it had come to the decision to not offer the access to higher education in its present form.

"There are a number of reasons, one of them has to be efficiency. We do run a science foundation course and people can use that as a means to get into the health profession. Duplication is silly," she added.

"We are planning to merge access to higher education with the science foundation, which would give people considering nursing, radiography, and operational practitioning much better experience.

"There is an extensive range of courses within the further education sector, with GCSEs and A-levels. These things can usually be done in a year.

"This is only one small course that we offer when there are many, many ways of people going into higher education. I would be very unhappy if I thought that anyone was being disadvantaged."

danielle.nuttall@eadt.co.uk

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