Case One: Alison Roberts

A graduate has been giving back to the University of Chester after completing her Master’s degree while working in the Faculty of Education and Children’s Services.

Alison Roberts.
Alison Roberts.

Alison Roberts, from Winsford, began working at the University after earning her undergraduate degree in Computer Science and Business at Chester.

Having originally thought that would be the end of the line for her higher education, she was able to take advantage of the University’s Work-Based Integrated Studies programme (WBIS) and fit an MA in Marketing Management around her working life.

Alison said: “After finishing University the first time, I never thought I’d have the chance to complete a Master’s programme, as financial reasons meant I had to work and taking time off to study wasn’t really an option.

“When the chance came along to get a postgraduate qualification, I jumped at it. I’m really happy to have been given the opportunity and am very grateful to my colleagues who supported me along the way.”

It wasn’t all plain sailing, though, as Alison found balancing her work and study life “incredibly difficult and challenging.”

She said: “I also changed jobs within the University half way through – but the course was so flexible, it wasn’t a problem. I was simply able to tailor the programme to my changing needs. My tutor was so supportive and encouraging throughout the course, which really helped me to keep motivated and succeed.”

Alison found that she had to keep her levels of discipline and organisation high to make sure she met her deadlines – such as finishing a day’s work and needing to go to the library to study for the evening, or getting up early on a Sunday morning to work all day – but, as Alison explained: “I actually wanted this challenge and feel like I have since been able to transfer this discipline and work ethic into my professional life.”

The WBIS programme requires that participants connect their study to their working life so, as the Department’s Diversity Advocate, Alison focused her final dissertation on the recruitment of Black and Ethnic Minority students on to the University’s teacher training course.

Alison was able to pass the results of the research that she had completed to her Department and the figures proved very useful, particularly as they highlighted recruitment levels of other universities in the region and how Chester compared to them.

This impact did not go unnoticed, as Debbie Scott, from the University’s Professional Development Department, said: “Throughout her studies she was highly creative, producing exciting work which greatly enhanced her practice. 

“She chose with every module to focus on topics and areas that were challenging but also highly rewarding. Her final project in particular has greatly informed her Faculty’s plans for recruitment of students.”