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Adam - Travel & Tourism HND

Adam

I love travelling, discovering different cultures, learning new languages and meeting new people so the travel and tourism industry had always appealed to me.  I had already completed the Level 3 course but wanted to study the subject in more depth at Levels 4 and 5 so there would be more job opportunities available to me. 

I looked at university options, but the cost was a big factor.  It was much more expensive at university - the College course was nearly half the price, so I decided it was more cost effective to stay at Bedford College and gain my higher education qualification that way.

I love the fact that it’s all coursework and there are no exams. It’s all assignment based for each unit and if you fail you get feedback and advice about how to improve and you have a chance to do it again. This process is much better for my learning style as I can learn from my mistakes.  My organisational skills have improved dramatically because I have to plan my time well to ensure I meet all my coursework deadlines.  I’ve also gained a lot more confidence when giving presentations.

Overall, the course has been really good, I’ve learnt a lot, the teachers have been very helpful and it’s been a great place to learn.


Anna - Access to Combined Science

Anna

I’d always been interested in physiotherapy but when I first came to the UK from Latvia I didn’t feel confident enough to study it at university and chose to read Sports Therapy instead. I got a job working as a porter at the Luton & Dunstable Hospital and then progressed on to be a physiotherapy assistant on the stroke unit. After three years I applied to university again to study Physiotherapy, but because I had been out of education for a few years, they suggested I should take a course beforehand to refresh my skills.

Although I didn’t feel I needed it academically, the Access course brought so many extra opportunities, plus the nourishing atmosphere has made me feel I can now strive for a first class degree when I start at the University of Hertfordshire in September.

I really enjoyed writing my final project, which I chose to do on how stroke guidelines compare across different countries and I’m looking forward to taking this further in my final dissertation at university. Once I have graduated I aim to specialise in stroke rehabilitation.

I also enjoyed the microbiology unit as the equipment in the labs at College is really good, and I jumped at the chance to take my English and maths GCSEs for free. My maths tutor even spent extra time helping a few of us prepare for the higher maths paper. All of the tutors here have made me feel as though I can do so much more; their passion really spurs you on to succeed.

Arlene - Access to Midwifery

Arlene

After 12 years of childminding at home, I turned 40 and wanted my house back to myself! I’d always wanted to be a midwife and this felt like the right time for me to do something about it. A friend recommended the Access courses to me and, to my delight, I found that Bedford College offered a pathway in midwifery.

I’ve really enjoyed getting back into education. It hasn’t been easy financially, but the Advanced Learner Loan is there to cover the course fee and gets written off when you graduate from university. The studying has not been as difficult as I thought it might be; the tutors are excellent and help ease you into the course.

My favourite part of the course is science and the practical sessions in the lab. I’ve always enjoyed it and have studied some physics courses through the Open University over the years.  We have to do about 10 hours extra study at home per week, which is manageable as long as you stay organised and on top of it all.

Once I’ve completed the Access course I’ll be going to the University of Bedfordshire to study midwifery, and it will take three years to become qualified. It’s been an amazing year here at Bedford College. My confidence has gone from zero to absolutely through the roof, so if you’re considering it, just do it! 

Find out more about Access to Midwifery

Ashley - Access to Social Science

Ashley

I always knew I wanted to be a social worker; it was just a matter of when! I have a caring nature and worked with elderly people for two years. It also runs in the family, as my mum took an Access course 20 years ago to become a nurse.

Starting the Access course marked a return to Bedford College for me, as I had studied Travel & Tourism here after finishing school and went on to work for British Airways at Heathrow. More recently I had been working at a GP surgery, where again I was in this caring environment, and had my son.

I really enjoy the Sociology element of the course, and some of the modules cover social work, which will help me at university, but I think just being around different people and making new friends at College will help in a career where I’ll be mixing with different people every day.  

My biggest fear was coming back into education after such a long time. I didn’t have any expectations but I can honestly say all of my tutors have been lovely and quickly relayed my fears; they’re so supportive and you can ask them anything.

I have a place secured at London Metropolitan University and it will take three years for me to become a qualified social worker. The Access course is the best thing I’ve done and I’ve recommended it to everyone I know. It’s good to challenge yourself! 

Find out more about Access to Social Science


Anne - Business HNC/HND

Anne

I work full-time as a Customer Services Manager for Viapath; a public-private joint venture providing a range of pathology services for clinical customers, including Bedford Hospital where I am based.

Viapath are very supportive in helping their employees to progress their careers and having discussed progression opportunities with my manager and the Learning & Development team, Viapath sponsored me to do the Business HNC/HND here at Bedford College.

The knowledge I am gaining through this qualification will likely open up new opportunities within our Corporate Services team in London where, ultimately, I see my career progressing.

It wasn’t the first time that Viapath had sponsored my learning and development however; I have previously studied an NVQ in Customer Service here at Bedford College and found it a very positive and rewarding experience. 

While there is no denying that the HND course is a step up and a real challenge alongside working full-time and looking after my family, the tutors are really helpful and are always there to address any issues or concerns. The course involves two evenings a week in College and my employer allows me time to complete assignments if I need it.

I’ve particularly enjoyed the unit on HR Development and it’s really opened my eyes to the problems businesses face and the solutions they use to address them. As part of my course we have also visited the Magistrates Court in Milton Keynes.

I would certainly recommend the course to others. The philosophy and spirit of the Bedford College team is very good – they care about each of their students and want to see them achieve their best.  


Ally - Teaching in Post-Compulsory Education (Cert Ed/PGCE)

Ally

After graduating from Birmingham School of Acting, I decided that I wanted to go into teaching. I chose Bedford College for my PGCE because I had studied there a few years before so I knew how great the College was.

The PGCE course only started this week but I’ve been volunteering as a teaching assistant for over a year. During the PGCE course I will spend one day a week teaching and I’m really looking forward to designing my own modules and putting my own twist on lessons. I need to complete one hundred hours of teaching by the end of the course in order to qualify. The course is accredited by the University of Bedfordshire so although I’m taught at the College I will graduate with a University postgraduate degree and I can use all their facilities if I wish.

The teachers at Bedford College were and are so helpful – I feel that they go above and beyond to help their students. They really want you to do well and that motivates me to push myself and do the best that I can.

Most of the people on my course live locally and commute into College which means that, like me, they don’t have to pay additional accommodation costs. But, in my opinion, you can’t put a price on a teaching qualification. It is a life-long job as we will always need teachers!


Amy (Alumni) - Media Production Foundation Degree

Amy

Amy is now a Freelance Director at the BBC

I am a Freelance Director currently working in factual television at the BBC on consumer programmes such as Watchdog and Your Money Their Tricks.  After my course I worked at BBC Three Counties Radio as a Broadcast Assistant which helped me to build up my journalism experience.  During this time I did a total of nine weeks of unpaid work experience with BBC television, eventually being offered a researcher contract on Escape to The Country.

At the moment I’m working on Watchdog as a Director which involves directing short five minute films that will run within the main programme. I'm given the stories by the producers then have to come up with some creative ideas about how to tell the story, interview experts and also make sure that the piece was legally viable.  We’ve been filming for the last week, but when we actually film with the presenter we will only have one day and one camera man, so we won’t have any room for mistakes as it’s straight to edit the next day.  Editing is actually my favourite part of the whole process.

The Media course at Bedford College enabled me to develop many of the skills that I still use today.  It was practical and we gained hands-on experience with cameras and editing software. We also created a mini feature film where everyone in the whole class had different roles which gave me insight into what’s expected of you in the workplace.  We were also given the responsibility to create our own individual pieces and were encouraged to be as creative as possible. There’s no doubt that my time at Bedford College was a brilliant experience.  


Chris - Engineering BSc Top-Up

Chris

I am an Environmental Test apprentice at Lockheed Martin, a global defence and aerospace company, and I am studying for a BSc in Engineering with Bedford College and the University of Northampton. Alongside my role, I help to look after 20 junior apprentices, which is where my journey with Bedford College also started.

I began as a Maintenance apprentice with Lockheed Martin in 2012, studying the Level 3 Mechanical Engineering apprenticeship programme at the College.  I have always enjoyed taking things apart and putting them back together, so engineering was an obvious choice for me after school. I then studied a year of Electrical Engineering at Level 3, in order to give me dual skills and progressed from there on to the HNC/HND in Electrical Engineering.  

My journey with the College and my employer has allowed me to access different opportunities, while all the time learning as much as I can and gaining more qualifications. I wanted to stay at the College because I had got to know the tutors; they are so knowledgeable and have always been really invested in their students.

The BSc is a great challenge and the programming aspect has allowed me to develop new skills that I can put to use in my career. There are different learning styles at the College and the University, with more one-to-one learning at College but more focus on self-learning at Northampton. 

I’d definitely recommend the College to others – it’s a great place to learn and will drive you to achieve all that you can. 


Ed - Agriculture Foundation Degree (FdSc)

Ed

Ed grew up in the countryside where he often spent time helping with various jobs from field maintenance to horses. “Farming is a way of life for many,” said Ed. “And through education we can make basic changes to aid improvements.”

On completing the Advanced Level 3 Extended Diploma in Agriculture here at Shuttleworth, Ed did his research and realised that, to pursue a high level job in the industry, he would need to be educated to degree level, as well as have plenty of work experience behind him. 

He enrolled on to the Foundation Degree in its inaugural year. “There is a lot more science involved in the degree-level course, both theory and practical,” explained Ed. “For instance, when we work on the farm we carry out blood tests on the livestock and the theory really pieces together everything we learn in the practical sessions.”

As part of the Foundation Degree the students have the opportunity to shadow and support the Farm Manager and members of the Agriculture team. Working as a Farm Manager Assistant Ed has experienced all aspects from crop and livestock sales, to which crops to plant and farm record keeping. “I’ve also had the opportunity to complete additional qualifications during my time here including a JCB forklift course and a pesticide spray course.”

“The facilities are very good at Shuttleworth. As a higher education student we now have access to the HE centre, which is a private space for degree-level students to work, meet and relax.” 

After completing the Foundation Degree Ed is aiming to top up his qualification to a full degree and then move into a managerial role with an agricultural company, researcher, or possibly work as an agronomist in developing countries, helping them to improve food security and sustainable land use.

Elise - Teaching in Post-Compulsory Education (Cert Ed/PGCE) Certificate Intensive

Elise

This is the only college locally to offer the intensive PGCE course, which enables you to gain the qualification in a year.  Initially I had planned to do the course part-time but because this intensive course is full-time I actually ended up leaving my job so that I could get my qualification as quickly as possible.

I enjoyed the practical side of the course, teaching the students, because I was able to put into practice the theory which I learnt in class such as lesson planning, different teaching styles and marking. 

I feel very lucky that I was surrounded by a great team of teaching professionals including my tutors and my mentor who gave me a lot of advice.  There is no doubt that the course has boosted my confidence and given me the skills I needed to get my first full-time teaching job. 


Elliot - Educational Practice Foundation Degree

Case Study Elliot Educational Practice Foundation Degree

Seeing children progress is something I find really rewarding. My mum is a childminder so when I was younger we often had children around and I began to think that teaching could be the right career for me. I started volunteering in a school after finishing my GCSEs and enrolled on to the Teaching Assistant Apprenticeship programme with Bedford College. On completion of my Apprenticeship, the head teacher at the school offered me a full-time teaching assistant role and I now work across different age groups, from reception to Year 4. In my spare time I play rugby for Kempston town and help coach the under 18s team.

The flexibility of the Foundation Degree fits well into my work commitments and it is the next step on my way to becoming a qualified teacher. On completion, I aim to top-up my qualification to a full degree at the University of Bedfordshire and then do a PGCE.

The course has been a real eye opener; it makes you look at things in different ways and I wouldn’t be as comfortable doing my job without knowing some of the theory that we have learnt in lessons. I really like that we can discuss things as a whole group. The other students in my class are of different ages and work in a variety of roles, so we all bring our own experiences into class and apply different ideas to help us improve practice. Eventually I would like to specialise in special educational needs and behaviour.


Emma - Graphic Communication BA (Hons)

Emma

I taught myself graphic design and website design when I was about 17 and studying at college. I went on to work as a receptionist for five years and then at an insurance broker, but eventually I’d had enough of the day job and started applying for roles in graphic design. Although I had some interviews, companies were unwilling to take me on without formal qualifications or a proven portfolio.  

That’s when I came to Bedford College. As a mature student with responsibilities at home, it was a more sensible option than going away to university. I completed the HNC and HND where I was delighted to achieve so much, including an international YCN Award.

We were the first year to be offered the chance to top up to a full BA (Hons) degree here at College, in conjunction with the University of Northampton. What I love about studying for the BA is the freedom to set up your own projects, and interpret things in your own way.

It hasn’t been without its challenges; we’ve had to write a dissertation and the general volume of work has been higher. However, both our tutors and the staff in the Learning Resources Centre have offered one-to-one sessions on how to structure your writing and reference correctly, which really helped. I’ve always had as much support from my tutors as I have needed during my time here, but these were an added bonus to help with the step up to BA.

After completing my degree I would like to get a job in the industry in order to increase my knowledge and experience further, and then hopefully go freelance. 


James (Alumni) - Graphic Communication BA (Hons)

James

Junior Designer at EMC Design

After finishing school with too few GCSEs to go on to sixth form, I now have; a job as a Junior Designer with the leading print and digital design agency for publishing, a first class degree and national YCN award under my belt. And that’s all thanks to Bedford College.

After a flying visit on GCSE results day I started on their Level 2 Art & Design course and worked my way up the levels in Graphic Design. I choose to stay here for my undergraduate study partly because of the rising cost of university, but mostly because of my tutor Jeffrey’s expert teaching.

I loved doing my final major project at College. I invented an electric car company called ‘Element’ where everything is sourced sustainably. EMC Design saw the work at our end of year exhibition and said they’d be really interested in talking further – and here I am!

I’m learning a lot in my new role including how to do things efficiently and to a high standard first time every time, plus lots of new keyboard shortcuts for InDesign! I’m just in the process of liaising with a client about some amendments for a pack of educational flash cards to be used in Mexico.

The best thing I have taken away from my tutors at College is to embrace any criticism you are given. I learnt that you become a better designer if you push yourself to explore a number of ideas rather than focus on one. 

Josie (Alumni) - Graphic Communication BA (Hons)

Josie

Junior Designer at EMC Design

I wanted to study Art & Design when I finished school, so my teachers suggested the Foundation Diploma at Bedford College. If you’re unsure about going to university then it’s a great option, as you spend the year sampling different disciplines before deciding what to specialise in. I had experience in illustration but the Graphic Design tutor, Jeffrey convinced me of the brilliant career prospects for graphic designers. I progressed on to the Graphic Design HND and when the opportunity for the BA opened up, I went for it.  

If it wasn’t for Jeffrey I wouldn’t be where I am now. The department have excellent links with industry and will happily give advice on job applications and your CV. I was offered this role at EMC Design before I’d even graduated. They’d seen my work at our end of year exhibition and we got in touch from there.

EMC are a great company to work for and they really look after you. As a Junior Designer I’ve been involved in some digital illustration work and given my own job to do, which has just moved over to the production team for checking.

Highlights of the course were going to the D&AD exhibition in London and winning a YCN award. It prepared me for following a real life brief, deadlines and receiving criticism to improve things. I’m looking forward to progressing as a designer here at EMC over the next few years.   

Gyorgyi - Hospitality Management HNC

Gyorgyi

I started at Level 1, and then went on to Level 2 and Level 3, before progressing on to this higher education course.  My family are involved in the hospitality industry so I understand what is involved in the industry, but I wanted to learn the theory and how the UK sector works.  I have also been fitting my studies around my family commitments so the College has been absolutely fantastic for me because it’s local and I can be there every day if needed.

I looked into similar courses run by local universities but one of the main reasons why I chose Bedford College was because it was much cheaper. My tutors also told me about the Advanced Learner Loan which has really helped me.

The most interesting part of the course for me has been learning about management theory and marketing.  I also enjoy the finance part of the course, which surprised me as I’m not keen on the money side of things! 

My teacher is very dedicated and has a lot of industry experience.  To be honest, she’s been a role model for me and she’s helped me to develop my sector knowledge, English language and academic skills. 

I’ve just started a small cake decorating business and, if I can expand this and get funding, my aim is to open a shop in a few years.  I’ve also recently applied for a part-time job as a team leader in a local school.  This course has given me the self-belief and confidence that I needed to apply.  I’m looking forward to coming back next year to complete the HND at Level 5 as I really enjoy learning and studying here.


Holly - Animal Management Foundation Degree

Holly

I progressed directly from the Level 3 course at Shuttleworth College to the Animal Management Foundation degree.  Originally I hadn’t intended to go on to higher education, but I enjoyed the Level 3 course so much and in particular loved working with the animals in the College’s Animal Unit, which is such a unique facility.  I really bonded with the animals, so it made it very difficult to leave!

As I expected, the higher education course was quite intense but I was also given some fantastic opportunities. For example, as part of the ecology unit in my first year, I had the chance to go to Hungary for ten days to meet with fish farm experts and representatives from across the EU.  Also, as part of the degree, I spent some time volunteering at Wrigglies Exotic Pets in Biggleswade which led to me being offered a part-time job as an Exotic Livestock Technician.  So now I get paid to work with cobras, rattlesnakes and large alligators!

My plan is to top-up my degree at Oxford Brookes University by completing their BSc Animal Behaviour and Welfare course and then I may even go on to do a Masters. I see my future in the animal management industry and that’s partly because of the great experience I’ve had at Shuttleworth College.


Jack - 3D Design HND

Jack

I’ve always loved Art & Design. I studied Art at GCSE and A-Level at school, and then came to Bedford College to study the Art & Design Foundation Diploma (Pre-Degree). This gave me a great insight into studying Art & Design at a higher level. I wasn’t sure whether I wanted to specialise in Graphics or 3D Design, and the Foundation Diploma enabled me to try out both. After choosing 3D Design for my final project, my mind had been made up and I progressed on to the HNC followed by the HND.

When I first started out on the course, I enjoyed making the products more than the initial conception, but now it’s the other way round. I love looking at trends and then designing my own products in CAD – I have always enjoyed drawing and sketching ideas. My favourite projects have been a lamp made from jesmonite and a space saving desk. We get great support from our tutors, and, to be honest, they have been our saviours at times! It’s a really hands on course with plenty of materials available to you.

Last year I managed to secure myself a two day per week internship with Koti Studio near St Neots, which has been great, and I am now applying for full-time jobs in product or furniture design. For me, it’s definitely been a better option than university. My sister studied the Graphic Design HND here and went straight into a full-time job at the end of it; I’m hoping to do exactly that. 


Jenna - Access to Animal Management

Jenna

Before starting this Access course at Shuttleworth College I had been out of education for 10 years. I worked in retail after leaving school and more recently had a cleaning job. Whilst this offered plenty of flexibility while my daughter was young, I wasn’t happy and deep down knew I wanted to get back into education.

I love animals and have always had a dream of opening a cat sanctuary. I looked into Animal Care courses after a colleague recommended Shuttleworth College to me. When I spoke to staff they suggested I’d be a good candidate for the Access course, so here I am!

I took out the Advanced Learner Loan to cover the cost of the course and the College have been fantastic helping with childcare fees and a travel bursary. 

My plan is to go on to an Animal Science degree here next year, which I would never have believed when I started looking at courses. I’m not very academic so the Access course has been a challenge, particularly the assignments and essays. However, the tutors have been fantastic at keeping us on the right track – and they really bring the love of animals alive!  I’ve come to realise that I am more than capable; I’ve just got to keep that self-confidence going inside. 

Shuttleworth College is such an inspirational place and the Animal Unit is fantastic. We get to work with so many different species and you can’t help but take pride in caring for them. 

Find out more about Access to Animal Management

Katherine - Access to Computing

Katherine

I started this Access course two years after leaving sixth form. I’d had some time out and had intended to go back to sixth form, but decided I wanted to go to university and searched online for other options. I found that Access courses can get you to university in just one year if you don’t already have the grades you need.

Coming to Bedford College was a really good decision. I’ve met so many great people and it’s getting me to where I want to be.  I was quite a shy person growing up and found that I could connect with people through computing. I taught myself a lot over the years and when I read something online about computer science from someone who was about to go and study it, something clicked in my mind and I knew this is what I wanted to do.

I love programming and enjoy the maths on the course as well; my dad and grandad are both engineers, so that sort of mind set runs in the family! Another unit I have really enjoyed is Computers in Society, which combines computing with my passion for history. The tutors and other students are all lovely and we have an online group chat to help each other out between lessons.

I’m looking forward to going to the University of Westminster to study Computer Science at the end of the Access course and would love to have a career in either software development or game development. 

Find out more about Access to Computing

Kirsty (Alumni) - Graphic Design HND

Kirsty

Kirsty is now a Junior Creative at Ted Baker

I don’t think I would be where I am now if I hadn’t done the Graphic Design course at Bedford College. I feel that I had a better experience than some of my friends who went to university because of the one-to-one support I received at the College and the opportunities I had to show people in the industry my work, such as exhibiting at D&AD’s New Blood exhibition in London. 

I did work experience with Ted Baker in the first year I was at College and then kept in touch with them throughout my course.  Once I graduated they gave me a six month internship which led to a job at the end of it.

I’m now based in the London office, in Camden and I produce a wide range of graphic design materials for window displays, leaflets and in-store point-of-sale.  I’m designing some wallpaper at the moment that will be used in the fitting rooms for a new store that is opening in Kuwait.

Whilst I was at Bedford College, I enjoyed developing my design skills and becoming an expert in using programmes such as the Adobe creative suite.  I also worked on live briefs for local companies which enabled me to pay for my exhibition space at D&AD New Blood. I feel that the Graphic Design course at Bedford College prepared me very well for working in the industry and made the transition from College to full-time work very smooth.


Leanne - Psychology & Crime Foundation Degree

Case Study Leanne Psychology & Crime Foundation Degree

I studied the part-time Level 3 certificate in Counselling here at the College before moving on to higher education. I chose this Foundation Degree because the flexibility of the course fitted with my family commitments, with one full day of study in College per week.  

I really enjoy the course. Our tutors are very approachable and make the lessons fun. The tutor that teaches the crime part of the course is an ex policeman, so we benefit from his experience. I’ve completed some work experience as part of the course with victims of crime at Victim Support in Bedford and was recently nominated by them for a University of Bedfordshire Student Appreciation Award for Outstanding Contribution to the Community. I’m also a student rep for the course, which involves relaying feedback from the class to the College at regular meetings. 

I’m considering teaching as a future career. This would involve topping up my Foundation Degree to a full degree with a third year of study, and then a one year PGCE.

I’d recommend the course to other mature students coming back into education; there are not many other places that offer the subject locally and the fees are cheaper than university. You also get to learn alongside people from all different backgrounds, which enable you to gain others’ perspective on things.


Liz - IT Networking & Security Foundation Degree

Liz

I actually went to university the year before starting this course, but I left after a few months because I didn’t like the learning environment and wanted to study closer to home.  When I came to visit the College I was really impressed by how helpful and caring the teachers were and what a close knit community it was.

In my opinion, one of the biggest benefits of studying a higher education course at College rather than university is that you get so much more support from your tutors.  Universities are dealing with many more students so, in my experience, the lecturers don’t have time to give you the individualised support that you get at College.  For me, it’s important to know I can contact my College tutors at any time if I don’t understand something or need additional guidance on an assignment.

I’ve particularly enjoyed the computer networking unit because I’ve had hands on experience using the CISCO switches and routers, which is the equipment you’ll be using in industry. I’ve also enjoyed the unit on servers and hardware.  In fact, the College put me forward for the WorldSkills competition in the CISCO Network Technician category and I came second in the heats! It was a great experience.  I was even given work experience in the IT Services department at the College last year and that went so well I was offered a full-time contract.  You can’t really ask for more than that!

Mehool - Music Technology Foundation Degree

MehoolComing from a musical background and with a passion for playing Indian percussion instruments, studying music was an obvious choice for Mehool. He studied Level 2 and Level 3 Music Technology at Bedford College after leaving school and then moved on to the Foundation Degree.

“I looked at going to sixth form after my GCSEs, but the facilities at Bedford College were so much better than anywhere else locally. The tutors were very helpful and pushed you to do your best, even though I had to adjust from using Windows to Apple with the College’s industry standard equipment!”.  

Mehool not only learnt all the theory and practical skills during his time at College, he also discovered his ‘signature’ sound while working on his major project. “We had to produce our own album from scratch, which allowed us to be very creative. Mine was called ‘East Meets West’ and is a blend of Indian heritage and Hip Hop, Dance and House styles. I also really enjoyed the Music & Media unit, which is all about composing music for commercial purposes such as TV adverts”.

Mehool is already working with some artists under a small record label and his next steps are to top up his qualification to a full degree at the University of West London and eventually become a record producer.  

Oliver - IT Networking & Security Foundation Degree

Oliver

“I was really happy to win a bronze medal at the World Skills UK Competitions Finals held at The Skills Show, NEC Birmingham, having qualified in a regional heat. I competed in the heats last year but did not get through to the final. The competition stretched over two days and we worked against the clock to complete tasks. We worked from 9am until 4pm on the first day with one hour for lunch, and the work that you did related to the tasks on the second day, so you really had to stay on the ball. There were thousands of visitors walking around the hall, but I got stuck in and soon didn’t realise they were there.

I started at Bedford College on a Level 3 Extended Diploma after studying Advanced ICT at GCSE. The course at College offered a lot more choice of modules than an A-Level course, and enabled me to focus on networking in my second year.

The Foundation Degree course really does get you on your feet for a career in the industry. The course has taught me about the business side of networking, as well as the technical side thanks to the brilliant facilities. I enjoy all aspects of the course and now have a part-time job with a local networking company. The tutors have been great; they are very supportive and always there to lend a hand if you need it.  

After college, I would like to continue to build up my qualifications while working in the industry. In the meantime, I’m going for gold at next year’s World Skills competition!” 

Olivia - Travel & Tourism HND

Olivia

I came to Bedford College in September 2012 and started on the Level 2 full-time Travel & Tourism study programme. My journey continued as I progressed on the Level 3 course; I was gaining lots of knowledge of the industry and was even nominated as Class Representative, which involved attending meetings with the College’s executive team on behalf of our course.

I was not aware of the option to study at degree-level at College, but with the help and guidance from the tutors I soon learnt about the HNC course.  This course offered such a great variety of options that I decided to further my studies at Bedford College. It was a big step up to Higher Education but having progressed through the levels I had plenty of knowledge and understanding behind me, and the support from the tutors certainly helped me.

I’ve really enjoyed the unit on Sustainable Tourism and looking at the social and economic factors that have an impact on tourism today. I also thoroughly enjoyed the Resort Management unit, which I have a strong interest in. 

I am going to top-up to a full degree at Brighton University next year where I will study BA Hons International Tourism Management.  Upon completion of my degree I can then consider two options: to either continue at university and study for a Masters degree; or possibly train in Resort Management. I enjoy engaging with people and offering customer service, and feel this role would combine my passion for travel with my bubbly personality.


Roger - Photography HND

Roger

I did my Fine Art Diploma at Bedford College and then progressed on to this Photography course.  I didn’t even consider university because the College had such good Ofsted results and I knew the tutors in the Art department were excellent.  I also wanted to save money, and the course at College was cheaper than university, plus I could live locally so didn’t have additional living costs to pay.

I think the course has done a lot for me because I came from a fine art background and needed to develop my photography skills, such as shooting in the studio and being out on location.  I’ve been able to work on professional projects while on the course, which has given me invaluable experience. Last week we photographed a ceremony in Bedford and we’ve also previously done some photography work for a local jeweller.

My next step is to set up my own professional photography business with two other students from the course. We’re building up our professional portfolio at the moment and hoping to have some events booked towards the end of this year. 


Samuel - Access to Business

Samuel

I joined the Army straight from school and worked in the Bomb Disposal Unit, completing three tours of Afghanistan. After five and a half years, I found I wasn’t enjoying it any more. I bought a house and decided it was a good time to ‘jump ship’.  I researched my options and was ideally looking for a course that could get me on to a law degree. This Access to Business course provided a good stepping stone to university and also offered elements of law.

I had been promoted to Corporal before leaving the Army so I was worried about coming to College from such an authoritative role. Would I be treated like an adult or would it be like going back to school? I needn’t have worried. It’s an independent learning environment but you have the support of your tutors who are very friendly.  I’ve really enjoyed the course and it’s certainly not been a case of just turning up and getting it done; it’s worked really well for me and been good preparation for university.

I’ve always been interested in law, particularly criminal law and I have managed to stress these aspects of the Access course in most of the assignments that we do. Once I finish here at College I am going on to the University of Birmingham to study Law and hope to eventually qualify as a barrister. 

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Tom - Music Technology Foundation Degree

Tom

Tom enrolled on to the Music Technology Extended Diploma course at Bedford College after finishing school. He was impressed by the college environment, which was very inclusive and, while supportive, mature and independent too. The Student Services team helped Tom to access a little extra help with his writing skills from the Additional Support team. “If I had asked for help at school”, recalls Tom, “I was usually missed because I wasn’t a particularly high performer but was not underperforming either. However, as soon as I went to see the Additional Support team they set me up with a support tutor who was a great help. We met every two weeks.”

During his time at College, Tom’s confidence grew so much that on completing his course he went on to the Music Technology Foundation Degree and then to top up his degree at the University of Bedfordshire where he finished with a first. “If you’d ask me when I started college if I thought I would finish with a first class degree, I’d have said definitely not!” laughs Tom. “The support given to me during my time here has helped so much. I loved it – honestly, it’s one of the best things I’ve ever done”.

Looking to the future, Tom would now like to work as a sound engineer and film/TV music composer. Most recently, he has recorded audio for “The Man who Sewed the World”, a documentary screened at the Odeon cinema in Bletchley about the town’s revered fashion designer Freddie Burretti, who helped David Bowie rise into a worldwide phenomenon.


William (Alumni) - Graphic Communication BA (Hons)

William

Junior Designer at Bonfire Creative Intelligence

When I came for an interview at Bedford College I was already studying for a Foundation Degree in Computer Science elsewhere. I was very interested in web design but not the technical side of coding. By the time I’d had my interview and seen the work other students were producing, I was convinced to make the switch to the Graphic Design HNC.

I learnt all the Adobe products from scratch, but the best thing about the course was the valuable input of the tutors and their links to the industry. You could sit at home and teach yourself InDesign, but you wouldn’t get to sit down with your tutor and get the expert critique on your work to help you constantly improve.

I went from knowing very little to landing a great job a month after graduating. The course covered editorial, branding, digital design, and here at Bonfire Creative Intelligence I am working on various launch campaigns and creating anything from banner ads and t-shirt designs to GIF images and bunting for pubs! I love it and am learning so much.

My computing background has certainly helped in an industry where everything is becoming increasingly digital, and I would urge others to develop their digital and animation skills - perhaps even gain a bit of video editing experience - if they want to stand out from the crowd.  

The course also enabled me to enter and win a prestigious YCN award for a Santander brief, and complete a final major project. I loved the creative freedom to stretch out my brand for an internet security software across web, social and an app.

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