Lindsay McCord

Part of: Higher education case studies

Lindsay McCord, 29 and from North Belfast, has moved from a life on benefits to reaping the benefits that higher education can offer, saying "Higher Education has opened a whole new life for me." Read Lindsay's story.

Interested in continuing my education

Coming from a disadvantaged area of North Belfast, higher education has shown me there is a different world out there that I can take part in. I will complete my degree in Social Work at Queen’s in summer 2014.

I attended secondary school in my local area and left at 16 years old with few worthwhile qualifications. I later completed an NVQ Level 2 in Business in Administration which was my highest level of qualification.  

Before starting Higher Education, I believed that the only people able to do this were those whose parents were able to pay for their fees and to support them, the more ‘advantaged’ or middle class people in society. As I was going to be a full time student, I could no longer claim any type of benefits.

My fiancé and I had been living on benefits for so many years that we did not see a way out of it.

Loans and bursaries

I persuaded my fiancé that he too should enter higher education, as it would lead to a better standard of living than life on benefits. Thankfully, I discovered that loans and bursaries were available for both of us.

Queen’s assigned me a Personal Tutor to help me, and any questions he did not know the answer to, he was able to point me in the right direction, for example the Student Guidance Centre for careers advice or the student finance department for any queries around fees.

We had numerous talks at the beginning of first year about the types of support the University offers and even the types of specialist support for ‘mature’ students.

HE has changed my life

Choosing to enter Higher Education has changed my life in so many ways I could not name them all. It has given me the confidence to pursue my chosen career and the help and guidance along with way has ensured that I stayed on track.

Now education is my world, I have a love of learning new things where before I was scared that I was incapable of learning. It has improved my job prospects greatly and shown me a way of life that I thought was not possible. Living in a poverty stricken area, I thought my chances of a better life were limited, but Higher Education has shown me a way out.”

Reach higher

The 'Reach Higher’ campaign encourages people who are least likely to consider higher education that, with the help and support available, that it can be the right choice for them.

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