Togetherness and friendship are at the core of this year’s Access success stories at the University of Bolton.

According to the students, the power of teamwork and supporting each other in times of doubt has held them together and kept them smiling – through a 30-week course during which time they have completed 20 assignments of more than 1,500 words.

It’s a tough programme with many challenges, but programme leader, Susan Rabbitt, believes this year’s cohort has the secret of student success to overcoming the hard times.

The students come from a wide range of backgrounds and age groups, but they have pulled together to ensure no one in the class feels out of their depth. With Facebook and WhatsApp groups, they know they can reach each other at any time. If one student struggles with an IT skill, another with an IT background is there to support.

Said Jose Vasconcelos, age 23, from Salford: ‘When we started we were put into mixed groups with people very different from us. That, and having a couple of people on the course who are really outgoing and will bring everyone together, has really helped us as a group.

‘We tease each other, but we support each other and we make sure no one is feeling left behind. If someone’s having a wobbly moment we know we can go to Facebook or WhatsApp and help will be there soon. We are a real team.’

Jose is focused on going on to study for an Accountancy degree and the whole group are committed to going on to do undergraduate degrees. Most of the group are travelling from Manchester for course sessions and many juggle full-time jobs and families.

Said Programme Leader, Susan: ‘We’ve really never had a group like them. They are just amazing in the way they work together and support each other and their enthusiasm and way of working has been passed on to the January cohort now.

‘Access courses are really challenging and for students juggling family commitments or full-time jobs it is a massive tribute to their time-management skills and commitment that they have stayed the course – and kept smiling!’


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