I’m from Liverpool and left school with only a handful of GCSEs. I returned to education as a young mother via an Access course at Hugh Baird, a local FE college.
FE gave me a second chance. As a mature student from a working-class background, I was advised not to apply to the University of Liverpool as ‘it wasn’t for the likes of me’. I ignored that warning, and achieved a BA and an MA in English Literature from that institution. I also achieved a PG Cert in Widening Participation Policy and Practice from the UCL Institute of Education (IoE). I am four years into a part-time PhD at Liverpool on bringing equality into university admissions.
After my MA, I started working in the University of Liverpool’s Widening Participation team, and then worked for Aimhigher until the Coalition Government’s decision to abolish it. During my time with Aimhigher, I worked with primary and secondary schools, FE colleges and pre- and post- 92 universities around the country giving me a full understanding of the diverse needs of the education sector as a whole.
After Aimhigher sadly ended, I was redeployed into the Recruitment and Admissions department at the University of Liverpool and went on to become the University’s Fair Access in Admissions Manager, where I work to ensure all young people have the opportunity to access a university education regardless of their family background or income status. I was Innovative Practice Editor for the Widening Participation and Lifelong Learning Journal for ten years. I strongly encouraged practitioner as well as academic research articles.
I’ve been an active member of UCU since I reached the recognised grade in 2008.
I’m an ordinary member of our union. My story is like so many stories. I’m not special. Education made all of us. But the government is kicking away the ladder.
I have been touring the country speaking to members and the stories they tell me repeat the same themes. The government and university managers are trying to turn Higher Education into a profit-making exercise. Where HE goes, the government wants FE to follow, hence the merger mania of the last few years. Access to HE is increasingly determined by an ability to pay and a preparedness to get into debt. So adult returners to HE – like me – and part-timers are increasingly scarce.
University managers are side-lining educational and academic values in the rush to recruit students who can pay high fees. We need activists in our union who don’t just stand up for jobs, pay and conditions but defend education.
I don’t just want you to vote for me. I want you to stand up and support our colleagues and students, and defend education with me.