Our student, JerlFull-time mum of three, Jerlyn, came to the UK in 2010 and began her educational journey with LearnDirect, where she secured function skills level 2 in both English and Maths. Keen to progress with her studies, Jerlyn enrolled at St Helens College, undertaking a range of courses in ITQ Level 2, ITQ level 3, level 2 Business Administration, Diploma in Text Processing, level 2 Principles of Customer Service, Payroll Administration (SAGE) and level 1 AAT Accounting.

Upon successful completion of her ITQ level 3 course, Jerlyn found a natural passion for Computing and IT and was encouraged to continue her studies. Looking for a course that could be studied locally, allowing her to continue looking after her three young boys, pursue employment and completing the school run, Jerlyn said:

“I had a real desire to study above level 3 and University Centre St Helens opened that door of opportunity. University Centre St Helens offered a part-time HNC Computing and Systems Development, which, upon further enquiry, I realised suited my schedule and career goals perfectly. I was daunted by the thought of travelling to a large university and having already studied other courses at the St Helens Town Centre Campus, I felt comfortable here, so decided to apply for the HNC. This allowed me to stay local, whilst also fulfilling my dream of pursuing higher level study.”

Prior to beginning her HNC Computing, Jerlyn was a busy full-time mum to three young boys, taking up part-time employment with St Helens College 14-16 Academy, as an Administration Officer. When the opportunity to study on the HNC presented itself, Jerlyn did not hesitate to grab it, balancing part-time employment and a busy home life with part-time study.

Once enrolled, Jerlyn studied eight modules across a two-year period, and whilst enjoying them all, describes her favourite as the Website Design module, where she was given the opportunity to create a personal website from planning and layout stage to programming and the technicalities of ensuring the website was live, running, functional and user friendly.

Speaking about her Jerlyn said:
“What I really liked about the HNC Computing at University Centre St Helens was the fact that all of our assignments had a personal touch. We were given the freedom to complete each assignment in our own time, as long as we met and completed certain criteria. The lectures were so organised and very well presented. This made completion of assignments very easy, as all I had to do was refer back to the lecture notes and then build on these with my own research and reading. The knowledge I’ve gained through study on the HNC has given me the confidence needed to progress in my chosen industry, as well as the excitement, drive and desire to do so.”

As a part-time course, the HNC Computing required Jerlyn to attend only two evenings per week for two years. However, as a University Centre St Helens student, Jerlyn had access to a range of on-campus facilities, including a dedicated student lounge, quiet study spaces in the library and unrivalled access to her lecturers, meaning that she regularly attended campus outside of the two evenings per week to complete assignments, work with peers and undertake additional reading.

Teaching on Jerlyn’s HNC took place in a range of formats, including lectures, tutorials and presentations. Speaking, she said:

“The quality of teaching on the HNC is of a very high standard, it is well organised and well presented. Students can access the weekly module notes in the student VLE, an online system, which makes them accessible at anytime, anywhere. Students are also given a choice of software to use and given a range of free software related to the course, so that a lot of assignments and practical work can be done from the comfort of your own home. University Centre St Helens offers small class sizes, which means that learning is done in a very relaxed environment. As a student, I felt like I could ask a lot of questions if I didn’t understand something, or could share personal experiences related to lessons, without ever feeling any embarrassment or hesitation. As a group, we became very close, very quickly, so peers quickly became friends and lecturers get to know you all well, tailoring learning styles to suit individual needs.”

Continuing, she added:
“The lecturers are very friendly, approachable and experts in their chosen field with a wealth of valuable experience, that they share with their students. The quality of teaching is commendable and all of the lecturers provide the resources needed to allow students to expand their knowledge. Students are given challenging tasks and support is provided throughout the whole HNC journey. I firmly believe that the lecturing team go the extra mile by providing additional tutorial time if students need it and they keep track of each students’ assignments so no one falls behind.

Now that Jerlyn has completed her HNC Computing, she plans to take up the next level of study, either a Foundation Degree or Bsc (Hons) in Computing (Digital Forensics or Network and Communications), with a long-term goal of pursuing a full-time career in ICT. Now working full-time, Jerlyn plans to study for her degree on an online basis, with the Open University, to allow her to continue with full-time employment and the lifestyle that both she and her children have become used to.

When asked if she had any advice for a prospective student considering University Centre St Helens, she said:

“If you have the passion for Computing and wants to study at degree level, don’t think twice! – choose the HNC at University Centre St Helens. As a student, I really benefited from the small class sizes and the ability to study at a higher level in a local environment. The lecturers were extremely helpful and supportive throughout and made me realise that achieving a goal is only a step away. I am very thankful for University Centre St Helens for giving me the opportunity to study at university level which I previously thought impossible for a working mum like me.”