Mature student Stephen tells us of the warm welcome from students and staff alike

Stephen was concerned about student debt and so was hesitant to pursue a postgraduate degree. However, thanks to his Postgraduate Taught Scholarship, he is now enrolled on an MA in English Literature at Cardiff University’s School of English, Communication and Philosophy.

Can you tell us a little bit about the programme in your own words?

“After a fifteen year break from academic study I have found the course to be challenging and rewarding in equal measure. I was overwhelmed at first and wondered whether I had made the right decision to return to university after such a long gap. I even felt slightly intimidated by being around students who are younger than myself and who, on the face of it, seemed much more confident. I need not have worried though. The module leaders have been hugely supportive and the students are friendly and accepting. There are plenty of opportunities to attend lectures from visiting guest speakers and the atmosphere of the school is inclusive and relaxed.”

What did the Postgraduate Taught Scholarship mean to you?

“The Scholarship was hugely important to me because it has enabled me to pursue my academic interests at a time when finances were tight. It would have been much more difficult for me to do the course without the help of the Scholarship.”

Have you been able to secure funding from other places, how else are you supporting your studies?

“I am aware of the Jobshop and the help and information about funding and finance available to postgraduates and other students of the university.”

What were your motivations for undertaking a postgraduate degree?

“I always wanted to do an MA but was unable to do so when I completed my first degree as a result of student debt. For me, applying for the course was a question of fulfilling a longstanding ambition.”

Why did you decide to do your postgraduate degree at Cardiff?

“Cardiff University has a great academic reputation and this was obviously a deciding factor in my choice of institution. It is astonishing how often the university is name-checked in national and international media because of its globally important and ground-breaking research. But universities are not just about achievement; they are about people. And I can honestly say that the people at Cardiff make it somewhere truly special. The application process is straightforward and members of staff are genuinely helpful and supportive.”

Is there anything about your postgraduate course that has stood out in your experience?

“It’s hard to pick out something specific because I’ve enjoyed the whole experience. The course has been stimulating and enriching.”

What do you think of Cardiff as a place to live as a postgraduate?

“Cardiff is a fantastic place to be and a fantastic place to learn. I love the fact that I can drop in to the museum on the way home from university to see a world class collection of art for free, or take a walk towards the castle through the grounds of Bute Park. The thing I love best though is that everything is within walking distance. Cardiff has all the variety of facilities and experiences that you’d expect from a city, but everything is so accessible. It has an intimate feel that makes it really special.”

How do you think your postgraduate course will contribute to your future career plans?

“I honestly don’t know yet. I am confident however that the range of skills I have developed during the course can only be of benefit to my future career plans. But to me education is not really a means to an end. It’s an end in itself.”

Has studying for a postgraduate degree at Cardiff University lived up to your expectations?

“Absolutely. Everything I heard about the university was good and I have not been disappointed.”

What are your biggest achievements as a postgraduate student at Cardiff University so far?

“My greatest achievement, I suppose, was getting here. After a long break from higher education, it is easy to feel that perhaps you won’t be able to do it anymore. But I wouldn’t hesitate in encouraging anyone in this position to go for it. I haven’t regretted it for a moment! ”

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