Case Study

Vivienne Harding


Working as a legal secretary for 22 years wasn’t fulfilling for Vivienne Harding, who had a good CV but was never happy with it. Through all of her voluntary work, which includes helping offenders resettle into the community for the Reaching Out Project in Newcastle, as well as writing to death row prisoners for the Lifelines Charity, Vivienne knew that a Criminology degree was what she really wanted to do.

I was originally going to do a foundation degree with one of the University’s partner colleges, where the third year is at the University campus. I think I was worried about coming to a university as a mature student. When that course did not go ahead I decided to come to the University of Sunderland for the whole of my degree.

The University offers an excellent Criminology course and the modules suited what I was looking for. I am glad the foundation degree did not go ahead and I had to get over my fears, as the Criminology course at the University has been brilliant. Through all of my voluntary work and my love of criminology, the degree was what I really wanted to do.

I’ve found the staff lovely and helpful at the University. I was very worried about coming as a mature student but I was put at ease and felt I found my feet quite quickly. It’s been a very positive experience and has really increased my confidence. I’m hoping to go to do a Masters course and then work in either probation or with a charity helping offenders rehabilitate and reintegrate into the community.

I have recently found out I was successful in obtaining an Opportunity Fund grant from the Futures Fund at the University which will help towards funding my trip to visit an inmate in Arizona’s death row. I will be going there on my own. Without the grant I would not have been able to experience this incredible trip and experience the American justice system.

If you one day study at the University, research the course and make sure it is what you want, talk to lecturers, talk to other students and attend Open Days. University is what you put into it. Use the opportunity to get out of it as much as you can and work hard. It has been hard going but really enjoyable, I’m loving every minute.”

Published 12 February 2019

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