Higher Education students at Nelson and Colne College Group University Centre have been celebrated with a Virtual Graduation Ceremony as they gain their qualifications to secure career progression or their next steps into further study.

Students receiving their awards through Nelson and Colne College Group – incorporating Nelson and Colne College and Accrington and Rossendale College – have been celebrated via the colleges’ social media channels to raise awareness of the transformative effects of Higher Education, as a traditional graduation ceremony could not be held due to Covid-19 restrictions.

Some of the star students gaining qualifications in the Class of 2020 include adult learners who are looking to progress or change career, have overcome significant health problems to achieve, or who have balanced significant family and work commitments to succeed in their studies.

Victoria Copsey, 40, from Heysham, who graduated with a BA (Hons) in Health and Applied Social Studies, said: “The course offered in the HE department is ideal for working parents to provide progression – attending once a week fitted in with home life and family commitments. The Learning Support Team at College were also outstanding in arranging an assessment for my reading and writing needs and ensuring they were met.

“The qualification has enabled me to work as a band five practitioner within the NHS, while also building my confidence that I can achieve great things. It has led me to further study in the form of a Masters in Social Work at the University of Cumbria to continue my progression in my chosen field. I would like to work with older adults with mental health problems and enable people to meet their full potential.”

Andrew Nixon, 37, from Colne, who graduated with a BEng (Hons) in Manufacturing Engineering, said: “I would highly recommend Nelson and Colne College Group to anybody who is planning to study Higher Education – the teachers are extremely helpful and have real world experience in the area they are teaching, which is hugely beneficial.

“When I entered education again to undertake my HNC four years ago, it was off the back of a 14-year break in learning. The tutors at College were adaptable and understanding in getting me up to speed with the style and pace of learning.

“I’m an Advanced Manufacturing Engineer at Rolls-Royce and I have had a deep interest in how things are made and how they work since I was a child. My BEng qualification is helping with my career progression, and my ultimate career goal would be to become a department leader or manager within manufacturing engineering.”

Rachel McAllister, 36, from Todmorden, who graduated after completing her Professional Graduate Certificate in Education, said: “I enjoyed the PGCE and it’s a fantastic University Centre to study at. If childcare was ever an issue for me, my tutor was understanding of the situation. If I needed to catch up, I could follow the learning online via Moodle, and if I needed advice on what I missed I knew that I would always receive peer and tutor support.

“My qualification has helped me secure my first teaching job in Further Education at LifeSkills in Leeds which I am delighted about.”

Benny Asghar, 40, from Accrington, who graduated with a Foundation Degree in Counselling Studies, said: “We have fantastic teachers in the Higher Education department, and I have found the College to be helpful when I have fallen on tough times. Also, the smaller classes compared to lectures in some universities gives us more 1:1 interaction with the tutors, and it is really beneficial for my learning.

“I’m now working towards my BA (Hons) Counselling and Psychotherapy degree. I have been on a beautiful journey of self-discovery, which continuously encourages my curiosity to reach a broader and higher level of understanding of the subject. My ultimate ambition is to work in a therapeutic environment where my skills can be appreciated and utilised.”

Charlotte Scheffmann, Dean of Higher Education at Nelson and Colne College Group, said: “I would like to offer my sincere congratulations to all of our graduates on completing their qualifications, and wish them the very best of luck for the future. They have shown remarkable resilience, commitment and dedication to achieve and succeed in their studies during the most unprecedented of years.

“Donning caps and gowns at our traditional graduation ceremony – and marking the occasion with family, friends and tutors – is always a special occasion where memories are made. Unfortunately, due to the circumstances, we have not been able to do that this week, but we could not allow the situation to stop us from celebrating our Higher Education stars.

“Higher Education is renowned for having a transformative effect on people’s lives, and I hope that is true for the Class of 2020 graduating from Nelson and Colne College Group University Centre.”

The Higher Education offer at Nelson and Colne College Group’s University Centre is wide-ranging and is offered at two campuses – Nelson and Colne College and Accrington and Rossendale College.

It includes Applied Sciences, Building and Engineering, Business and Professional Services, Education and Childhood Studies, Health and Social Studies and Humanities. Access to Higher Education qualifications and Higher Level Apprenticeships are also available.

Applicants looking to apply for a Higher Education course at Nelson and Colne College Group can visit www.nelson.ac.uk or www.accross.ac.uk for more information, and can contact the Higher Education Admissions Team on 0333 003 1717 or email he@nelsongroup.ac.uk  to apply.