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Nicola Shelley

Law (LLB)

For many years, Nicola Shelley had been thinking about getting a degree. However, she didn’t have A-levels and so thought that she would need to do an access course or A-levels first, in order to get accepted into university.

She received a leaflet from her daughter, Chardonnay’s (9), primary school to say that Birkbeck, University of London were going to be giving a talk about studying at university as a mature learner and so Nicola decided to go along.

At that session Nicola discovered that Birkbeck does not ask for A-levels from students over 21 years old, and that her life experience and other types of qualification could also be taken into account.

Nicola also discovered that all Birkbeck programmes are taught in the evenings. She says: 'I realised that I’d be able to work in the day and study in the evenings and I thought, 'Yes, this is what I want'.

'I wasn’t familiar with Birkbeck before I went to that talk, but the fact that it was part of the University of London reassured me and I knew it was a good choice.

'At the information session they explained the new system of fees and loans. I had no idea about the finances before, but once it had been explained I knew that taking the loan was the best option for me. I know I’ll have a debt when I graduate, but when it was explained that I won’t have to repay any of it until after I finish studying, and even then, only if I am earning over £21,000 I realised that, although I don’t really want to have the debt, it works out better for me. I hadn’t realised until we did the calculations that the monthly repayments would be so low. That made me confident that I would be able to manage them.

'After the talk at my daughter’s school I came to several of the talks at Birkbeck and found out more about the fees and finance. I was weighing up what was best for me and for my children and I decided that education is paramount and now I knew that I could get the loan to cover my fees, it was time for me to go for it.'

Due to events which had impacted her family, Nicola had wanted to study law for many years. She said: “I always used to look at situations and wonder how you would see it differently if you had a legal background. I want to be able to analyse things and view them critically. I’m sure that law is the field I want to be in.

'I hope that my degree leads to a new career for me, but I also hope that I will see a lot of personal development during this journey.'
Nicola concludes: 'It’s important for me that my kids see me study. They’re extremely excited for me, especially my daughter - she’s been telling everyone.

'The friends and family that know that I’m going to university are all really excited because no-one in the family’s ever had a degrees – it’ll be a first.'

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'I realised that I’d be able to work in the day and study in the evenings and I thought, "Yes, this is what I want".'