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Tony’s Story: Access to Higher Education

Mature student Tony Miller is not only learning about history, he’s creating it too!

Tony, aged 71, has recently completed an Access to Higher Education course at City College Plymouth and is now set to become possibly the oldest ever history undergraduate at Plymouth University when he takes on a degree there. The self-styled ‘positive pensioner’ describes his education journey as “life-enhancing’” and says he has loved every minute of his time at the College.

Having left school with no qualifications and having suffered bullying whilst there, Tony spent 26 years of his working life as an electrical fitter in the dockyards and followed that by building railway signal systems for 20 years.

When his wife passed away in 2017, Tony spent a long time thinking about what he might do with his life, completed a GCSE course and looked at what other opportunities were available to him. “I always felt I had the ability to do well in education, but had never really had the opportunity,” he said. He began a Pre Access Employment course at College, and enjoyed it so much he took on an Access To Humanities course, which involved history, creative writing and English literature.

“I love the chance to be creative with my work and to be able to express myself. It’s great to be surrounded by people, including those many years younger than me, who have such positivity – it builds you up and makes a very positive difference to your life.”

Tony is full of praise for the tutors and support staff he has encountered at the College. “If you ever have an issue, such as pulling together a presentation, then they are always there to help,” he said. He has found it particularly useful to have one-to-one sessions with lecturers to talk through assignments. He also describes the College library and Digital Learning Quarter as a “fantastic asset,” with the wide range of reading material needed for his course, and very helpful staff. His next step is to undertake his three-year degree: “I have always been well read and love history. My two nephews took history degrees and have been an inspiration to me, so it’s a logical next step and I can’t wait to get started,” he said.

Access courses at City College Plymouth are designed for adults looking to return to education, enabling people to balance their home and work life with their studies and helping build confidence and to teach vital study skills. They put you in a great place to go on to a university level qualification and are recognised by the majority of UK universities and colleges.

Click here to find out more about our access courses.