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Students celebrated and awarded bursaries in Open College Network West Midlands’ awards ceremony


Open College Network West Midlands celebrated the outstanding achievements of students studying towards an Access to Higher Education (HE) Diploma, in an annual awards ceremony which took place on Wednesday, May 12.


The Brian May Access to HE Learner Awards were held online by the national Awarding Organisation and Access Validating Agency. The event celebrated the success and achievements of learners on Access to HE programmes across England and Wales.


Access to HE Diplomas are A Level equivalent qualifications which are designed to prepare learners for entry into higher education, by providing the knowledge and skills needed for learners to progress to Level 4 study at university or college. These qualifications can offer life-changing opportunities to a wide range of adult learners who have often missed out on the opportunity to progress to a degree course via the traditional GCSE and A Level routes.

Learners awarded for Outstanding Achievement have excelled in their academic study; whilst the learners awarded for their Commitment to Study have overcome significant barriers to study or have experienced an inspirational learning journey.

Up to 10 extraordinary individuals were recognised at the event this year and awarded bursaries from Open College Network West Midlands.


Kevern Kerswell, CEO of Open College Network West Midlands, said:

“It gives me great pleasure to be able to celebrate the achievements of learners on our Access to HE programme. Every year thousands of our learners gain places in University as a direct result of the amazing work our partner colleges and providers do to deliver this incredible diploma.

“This year we are proud to award bursaries to 10 award winners, to reward students who are outstanding in their studies and to support their progression into higher education. Open College Network West Midlands develops exceptional qualifications that change lives, and these learners demonstrate the difference that our qualifications make. Congratulations to all Award Winners!”


Celebrating amazing achievements

The educational journey of one Access to HE Learner has proved truly inspirational especially to women and those in her travelling community; many of whom experience life without education and professional opportunities.


Rebecca Coles progressed through a range of college courses and levels in order to prepare herself and meet the entry requirements for the Access to HE Diploma (Health Professionals), which is the steppingstone into studying midwifery at the University of Chester.


“It’s been a great opportunity to realise how much commitment and how many obstacles I had to achieve and I’m grateful for the teachers and the journey I’ve been on.

“I learnt how to read and write when I was 16 and my advice for future students is that if you are interested in something and you want to do it, go for it because you have a lot of support – such as childcare, funding with travel - anything you need, they’ve got your back!”.


Dayne McLeggan travelled all the way from the Turks and Caicos Islands to study an Access to HE Diploma (Land Based Studies). He will study agriculture at Nottingham Trent University to not only further his own career, but also to contribute to the Department of Sustainable Agriculture in his home country.


“One of my biggest motivations to becoming a farmer was my grandfather, who was also a farmer, and a big influence in my life. I left high school at the age of 17 and went straight into work, supporting my grandparents and helping my mother to rebuild our house. I left all of that to come here [the UK] to fulfil this course.

“I had financial difficulties and a little bit of depression from leaving all my friends and family back home to come here and go straight into lockdown. It’s been a very stressful and depressing year for me but all the help and friendly people on the course really helped and it really pushed me through. This award has motivated me to fulfil my dreams and goals”.



The winners of the Open College Network West Midlands 2021 Brian May Access to HE Learner Awards are:


Outstanding Commitment to Study:

  • Muhammad Mughal - South and City College Birmingham
  • Felicity Milazzo - Cheshire College South and West
  • Rebecca Coles – Cheshire College South and West
  • Nicola Marr – Sandwell College
  • Dayne Mcleggan – Reaseheath College
  • Jonathon Mackay – Cheshire College South and West


Outstanding Academic Achievement:

  • Rory Brace – Reaseheath College
  • Jasmine Morris – Solihull College
  • Amy Cooper – Sandwell College
  • Anthony Chinembiri – Sandwell College


Guests at the event heard first-hand from award winners and past inspirational Access to HE students who have had to overcome significant barriers in order to re-enter education but have shown exceptional accomplishments and managed to progress to some of the top universities in the country, or go on to higher levels of study.


More information about the Access to HE Diploma here


For all press and media enquiries, please contact Jas Jandu – Marketing and Communications Officer on 01902 624230.

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