Many of the students on the University of Warwick’s 2+2 Social Studies and Health and Social Policy course left school at 16 and never thought they would one day attend a leading university and go on to a graduate job.
The 2+2 programme allows students without traditional qualifications to spend two years at a local further education college studying for a University of Warwick degree before continuing to study at the university for a further two years. Introductory years at a further education college can help someone who has not experienced formal education for a number of years, giving them the chance to adjust to studying again, away from the more formal academic environment of a research-intensive university.
The programme takes 85 entrants a year, who come with either access level or vocational level 3 qualifications, although some have no level 3 qualifications at all. These are mainly students who may have missed out on educational opportunities earlier in life, or who may have faced barriers to continuing their studies.
Applicants take an entrance exam and are interviewed, giving tutors involved in assessing candidates a chance to evaluate their potential. Tutors at the participating colleges in Coventry, Solihull, North Warwickshire and Hinckley - and in future in Warwick and Leamington Spa - will also have made a recommendation to the university.
Students study in the familiar college environment and begin by studying first year degree modules such as research methods, which prepare them for university.
There is also a significant investment in student support: during their college years students will have up to four times as many contact hours as conventional students at the university. Those on the 2+2 courses also make much more use of the university’s central support services in areas such as finance and welfare.
When they have completed the two college years, students choose from a range of interdisciplinary modules offered at the university, which they study with other ‘traditional’ students, as well as specialist modules for adult students offered in the Centre for Lifelong Learning.
The programme has run for 25 years and has a track record of graduates progressing into areas such as social work or into teaching or working in local government. Some also go on to postgraduate study.
The growing programme will admit 110 students for 2015 year of entry, through links being developed with an additional college in Leamington Spa. The intention is to have some 300 students across the four years by 2015.