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Hamish Coubrough
MSc Economics

"I studied at Birkbeck in 1982-83, on the MSc Economics course. It seems a long time ago now in some ways, but not in others as I was already in my early thirties when I started it. I came from the University of Kent and had to do a month’s course and pass an exam in Maths and Statistics, before the proper MSc course began.

This was a great worry to me at the time as I had always considered myself to be mathematically dyslexic. However, I managed to struggle through with the help of some wonderful fellow students, more able than I, and the staff at the Economics department who were superb.

I lived in a housing co-op in Deptford at the time and found the afternoon and evening nature of Birkbeck suited me ok. Half way through the course, I saw a job advertised in the Guardian with the Trade Union from which I had won a scholarship to Ruskin College, Oxford, some 5 years previously. I applied for it and got it and wanted to leave the course as I thought there was a chance I might not get through the exams.

However, Richard Portes, who was the head of the department, advised me to stick it out and spoke to the Union. Therefore, a compromise was reached which meant I could finish the Course and take the exams, but also take the job. Although I found the whole thing extremely difficult to cope with, I am really glad that I did finish the course, it was my finest achievement, the pinnacle of my academic success. My understanding of Economics and the politics behind it was greatly enhanced by my time at Birkbeck. For that I will be eternally grateful to the College, its staff and fellow students."