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Access to Higher Education: a story of success in STEM

Published: Aug 31, 2018 4 min read

STEM learning

Coventry University Scarborough

I work for Coventry University Scarborough as a tutor in health and human sciences. Our course is an Access to Higher Education route that, upon completion, will lead students onto a health or science-based degree at university.

My role involves all aspects of teaching for the course, including human biology and the cardiovascular system. We regularly undertake a range of hands-on practicals, from heart and lung dissections to other aspects that build key nursing skills, such as blood pressure recording and monitoring.

I am extremely passionate about my role and empowering others to return to higher education. When discussing the success of our course with a colleague, they mentioned the STEM Ambassadors programme. I strongly believe in the importance for people of all ages to engage with STEM subjects, so I have recently decided to sign up as a STEM Ambassador.

Health care sciences is an area that covers many aspects and, as such, our students go on to study many different routes, including paramedical sciences, nursing, psychology, public health and biological sciences. However, we are currently facing a huge shortage of health-based professionals, which is a significant concern for the future.

Working together to prevent disengagement

In the local area, there are some students who are underrepresented in STEM, but there have been some really positive steps taken by local schools, colleges and Coventry University Scarborough to tackle this issue and prevent disengagement.

I want students to feel empowered and excited to pursue STEM. For returning adult students to know that university is not out of reach for them is at the heart of everything I do.

I am looking forward to using my experience to encourage others to explore their options in STEM and to be excited about what they could do. I want young people in the local area to feel inspired, motivated and informed about the possibilities in STEM and being a STEM Ambassador will help me make this difference.

Females, in particular, can be put off pursuing STEM subjects as historically some fields have been male-dominated. This is something I experienced myself when growing up, as I was often veered towards subjects away from science. Thankfully, things have improved vastly since I was younger, but there is still a gap between males and females studying science-based degrees.

With the STEM skills shortage looming, it is important to encourage anyone that wants to pursue a career in these disciplines. It feels like an exciting time to work at a university that is providing opportunities for women and men to go into health sciences and engineering in our local area.

Engaging the disengaged

A significant part of my current role is helping those that perhaps disengaged from education when they were younger. With our Access to Higher Education in Health and Human Sciences course, we have helped empower people from various backgrounds and ages return to education. We have seen significant growth in the numbers of female students returning to study who have now moved on to nursing, public health or biochemical degrees.

The impact of this can be felt in a quote from one of our students who was nominated for a national OCN award for excellent academic work.

“I feel honoured to be nominated for this award, it was daunting coming back into education after such a long time, however, the access course has given me the confidence to believe in my dream of becoming a nurse and I am so excited to be starting Adult Nursing at CU Scarborough in September.”

As a science educator in this specialised field, seeing my students grow with confidence and pursue their dreams is the reason I teach health sciences. With Access to Higher Education on offer, no-one has to be left behind and higher education is not out of reach for anyone. 

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