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Case Study

Keeley Davidson

Newcastle upon Tyne, UK

BSc (Hons) Criminology with Integrated Foundation Year

Keeley Davidson decided to take the plunge and return to education to follow her passion to work with supporting offender reintegration. She enrolled onto the BSc (Hons) Criminology with Integrated Foundation Year, and the IFY helped prepare her with the skills required for the full undergraduate degree. Juggling her studying with working and being a mum was challenging, but she was awarded the Futures Fund Scholarship, which helped her significantly during her final year.

Before starting my journey into Higher Education, I was working full-time in multiple positions within retail. I was apprehensive about taking the jump back into education – I’d had to put my plans on hold to have my son – but I decided it was finally time to fulfil my passion for learning and acquire the necessary skills to work with supporting offender reintegration.

The University of Sunderland was highly recommended to me by friends who’d attended straight from secondary school. The University offers an Integrated Foundation Year before the three-year Criminology course, which allowed me to gain the skills required to succeed within my undergraduate degree. The support I received during the IFY was instrumental in my progression and my foundation project is what first sparked my interest in offender reintegration.

The BSc (Hons) Criminology has led me to discover new passions through multiple volunteering roles, allowing me to fulfil my desire to support individuals within the community, while also giving me the opportunity to put my classroom-based knowledge into practice. The volunteering in conjunction with the academic studying has given me specific insight into being adaptable and working with a wide range of people with different needs, which has also helped me within my role at the University as a student skills and career coach.

During my studying, I was eligible for the Futures Fund Scholarship, which was a tremendous help to me during the first semester of my final year, when my workload increased significantly. As a mother and mature student, balancing working and studying has always been a financial challenge for me, but despite this, I’ve managed to maintain employment and voluntary commitments at the same time as achieving First-Class grades at university. The support from the scholarship meant I could reduce my working hours so that I could focus on my dissertation and other upcoming assignments. I was also entitled to receive funds from StudyPLUS which allowed me to purchase essential books and resources for my assignments.

While I’m still undecided on what career path I’ll take, there are several areas I’d love to explore to help me achieve these opportunities. I’ve decided to further my education and hope to gain a master’s degree.

To any prospective students considering studying at Sunderland, I would advise you to grab opportunities to volunteer with both hands, so you can prepare yourself for your future career. Treat university like a career within itself and always ask for support when you need it – seek out your tutors, peers, lecturers, and any other support offered at the University. It’s easy to let deadlines and everyday life get on top of you, but the level of support I’ve received during my four years of studying has been life changing, and I wouldn’t be where I am today without it. Most importantly, follow your passion – if you’re motivated enough, you can achieve anything!

To sum up my experience, this journey has been many things – fun, challenging, exciting, inspiring, and eye-opening. I’ve gained knowledge, skills, and confidence, and look forward to continuing my education journey.”

Published 5 March 2024

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