The chance to take control of her destiny and pursue education later in life proved crucial in Heather Ransom’s Fastrack journey.

A graduate of the 2015 scheme, which has just celebrated its 21st anniversary, she was inspired to apply by her son, who was then undertaking a Maths degree.

“I thought it was a ridiculous idea at the age of 49, and with no qualifications except my six O-Levels.”

However, undertaking the course instilled confidence and self-belief, following an interview with Access Programmes Manager, Janet Fairclough.

“I had been raised in a religious faith that discouraged further education, and I had been heavily involved with my church, preaching and presenting to our congregation while raising my four children. Fortunately, these were skills that helped.

“I spoke to Janet, an interview I will never forget. She told me I COULD get a degree, I COULD get back into education and that age did not matter. No one had ever said anything encouraging like this to me, and it took me a while to believe. It proved a new kind of leap of faith.”

The decision was one Heather doesn’t regret.

“Fastrack was an amazing experience of self-discovery. I learned so many new skills, made new friends and started a journey that I loved – and still do. It was hard work, and I put everything into it, but I did it.”

Heather flanked by her partner and son (right): “He was the inspiration for me coming to university”

The course allowed Heather to undertake a degree in Psychology, achieving a first, before moving on to do a Masters.

“I learned so much: about myself, about the world and about how much I had missed out on”, she said. “I worked hard, learned about referencing, academic writing and time management, and progressed with my degree. I loved academic life and enjoyed every module.

“After graduating I knew I was not ready to leave. I had grown to love Edge Hill, and the thought of leaving it behind did not appeal. Further to this, my dissertation subject had been so interesting, successful and enlightening, I knew there was more work to be done, that more research was needed.”

Heather successfully applied to undertake PhD studies, which involved presenting her proposed research.

“I did not think I would be successful, so at my interview I wasn’t nervous, and enjoyed the presentation. I couldn’t believe it when I was told a few days later that I had been successful.

“So, here I am, still at Edge Hill, and now a tutor in my department, loving the experience of teaching. I am studying for a PGCTHE and am about to start research for my PhD. Life is full and exciting, and I owe it all to Fastrack.

“It has been a life-changer and life-saver. I am so proud of Edge Hill for making this provision available for people like me, who missed the academic route years ago. My advice to anyone would be do it, be determined and change your life.”

Fastrack, which in June 2019 celebrated its 21st anniversary, offers adults the chance to gain the skills, understanding and confidence required for degree level, with training offered in essential study skills. The seven-week course is ideal for people who are looking to enter higher education but are not currently studying towards – or do not hold – the relevant Level 3 entry requirements.

To find out more about the Fastrack scheme, or to apply for the programme in 2020, click here.