Mike Lavery

BA (Hons) Graphic Design

Progression Pathway: Level 1 Art and Design, Level 2 Art and Design, Level 3 BTEC Extended Diploma Graphic Design, BA (Hons) Graphic Design

"I love how true to life the BA (Hons) Graphic Design degree course is proving to be. The lecturing team deliver briefs and deadlines as a client would in industry, and we are able to work independently to meet deadlines, with as much lecturer support as we need. The BA (Hons) Graphic Design has allowed me to study for a career I am passionate about, whilst providing me with the skills and knowledge needed to grow and develop my own 3D printing business."


20-year-old Mike Lavery from Eccleston enrolled on the BA (Hons) Graphic Design degree in September 2017, having enjoyed his time at St Helens College, where he successfully progressed through the levels, achieving a range of Art and Design qualifications.

Living locally, Mike already had a part-time job in St Helens, which he wanted to keep, so began researching universities in commutable distance to home. Hearing about the BA (Hons) Graphic Design degree course from tutors whilst on the level 3 BTEC Extended Diploma, Mike looked in depth at the modules he would be studying at University Centre St Helens and suitably impressed, decided to enrol.

Now fully settled into life as a university student, Mike is thoroughly enjoying his time at University Centre St Helens, where he has learnt a range of new concept and ideas. Already, he has successfully created a range of designs for apps and websites, alongside an array of illustrations. Within the first few days of the course, Mike explains that he was designing new typefaces and provides this as a clear example of how the degree is a natural step up from the level 3 BTEC Extended Diploma, where he would have had a month to do something similar.

Enjoying the fast-paced nature of the degree and the structure of the course, Mike said:

“I love how true to life the BA (Hons) Graphic Design is. On a typical day, I turn up at the studio for around 9.30am and begin my work. Lecturers work their way around the class, speaking to all students on an individual basis, discussing ideas and helping us to prepare and develop our work. If we are being given a new brief, we have to be in the studio for a set time, where we receive the brief and then take it away to work on. Just like in industry, it is then our responsibility to break down the information in the brief, do our research and produce designs that meet client needs and the aims of the brief.

The graphic design studio that we study in is very well equipped. We all have our own laptops, which we purchased using our Study Enhancement Gift vouchers but the studio if full of Apple Macs, so arriving for the start of the days ensures you have a Mac for the day. We also have full access to a studio camera, a light box and a laser cutter, as and when we need them. There is no need to book, the nature of the small class sizes and lecturers open door policy means that we are able to just walk up to equipment and use it when we need it, as all the materials that we need are provided in the studio.

The onsite print room is also really good too. Everything we need to design and print can be done on campus. The print room staff are really helpful too, offering suggestions on the format and size your work needs to be in, for maximum effect.”

In addition to being a full-time student, entrepreneurial Mike is also successfully running his own business, as proud owner of That3Dprint. A business that builds 3D printers and produces 3D printed products. Mike’s inspiration for his business began back on his level 2 Art and Design course with St Helens College, where, as part of a CAD module, he had the opportunity to build whatever he wanted. Taking the models, he and others in the class had built, Mike turned them in an STL file, which allowed the models to be printed in 3D, using a suitable printer. This sparked an interest in 3D printing that gradually progressed, leading Mike to set up That3D print company, a business he now successfully runs alongside his degree.

Speaking about the lecturing team on the programme, Mike said:

“The Graphic Design team are laid back but in a good way. Lecturers are really approachable and study is very much as I expect it to be in industry. If you are struggling with your work, you can literally just approach a lecturer and ask for help. They won’t give you the answer but they will give coach you and give the support you need to put you on the right path, through tailored advice and guidance.

My advice to anyone considering this degree would be to go for it! Expect a lot of work and, if like me you work or run your own business, expect a lot of late nights too. But this is balanced with all of the support and guidance you will ever need. If you have a part-time job, you can balance work with study. If you are organised and committed and I assure anyone that as a University Centre St Helens student you will receive all of the help and support you need to succeed. All of the lecturing staff want you to do as well as you do, so if you put in the time, effort and work, you will succeed.”