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Going to university ‘has transformed my life’, says a lecturer from Bedfordshire

Vaseline 4 weeks ago

Image source, The University of Bedfordshire

Image caption, Dr. Suzella Palmer said everyone who went to college was ‘exposed to people who grew up in different environments’

  • Author, Alex Pope
  • Role, BBC News, Bedfordshire

A woman who dropped out of school at 14 said gaining a university degree and a PhD in criminology “changed her life”.

Dr. Suzella Palmer, 53, moved to Luton from London after having children and enrolled at the University of Bedfordshire after completing a health and social care course.

The teacher and grandmother said she thought she might not “fit in,” but soon discovered that she did, and through studying she reached her “academic potential.”

She was featured in a 100 Faces campaign, celebrating the positive impact that people who are the first in their families to attend college can have.

Ms Palmer, a lecturer in applied social studies, said: “University education has transformed my life by giving me the knowledge, skills and confidence to recognize and realize my potential academically.”

She grew up on an inner-city estate, lost both her parents when she was young, became involved in criminal activity and was in care until she was 16, she says.

“Even though I thought I wouldn’t fit in at college and that college was outside my comfort zone, being around people who shared an interest or passion in the same discipline and fields made me feel like I belonged.”

‘Transformative experience’

Image source, Good morning Great Britain

Image caption, Going to college had a “huge positive impact on my life,” broadcaster Megan Murphy said

The campaign also features Megan Murphy from Jersey, who graduated in 2021 with a First Class degree in Radio and Audio. She is now a Good Morning Britain presenter for the ITV Channel.

“Going to college really pushed me out of my comfort zone,” she says.

“I went from a fairly shy person to an outgoing and comfortable person in unfamiliar situations.”

Vivienne Stern, CEO of Universities UK, which represents 142 institutions, said: “I believe we have a responsibility to continue working to ensure that a wider range of people in this country can access the potentially transformative experience of going to the go to college.”

Universities UK said it wanted to reintroduce maintenance grants in England for “those who need them most” and correct maintenance loans to “reflect real inflation rates and adjust the household income threshold, which has been frozen since 2008” .

A Department for Education spokesperson said it had helped people from all backgrounds.

“We are also increasing loans and grants for living expenses and other costs, along with freezing tuition fees for the seventh year in a row, to reduce the initial amount of debt students will take on.

“We have increased the Student Premium for 2024-2025 by £5 million to complement the help universities provide through their own bursaries, bursaries and hardship support programmes.”

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