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Col­lege alum­nus explains how Access to HE course helped kick-start his career


Former Wiltshire College & University Centre student Rhys Thomas explains how an Access to Higher Education course helped kick-start his career in archaeology.

A former student at Wiltshire College & University Centre is on the path towards a successful career in archaeology having reignited his academic journey through an Access to Higher Education course.

Rhys Thomas enrolled on the one-year Access to HE programme at the College’s Salisbury campus back in 2014 at the age of 25, having previously left school without A Levels.

The Access to HE Diploma is a qualification which prepares people without traditional qualifications for study at university. This summer, one graduate from the College’s latest cohort of Access to HE students was offered a place to read at the University of Cambridge.

Studying the course allowed Rhys to begin to pursue his passion for archaeology and he has since gone onto achieve a Postgraduate Diploma and now hopes to complete a PhD in the near future.

Rhys, now 34, explained: “I didn’t complete my A Levels at school and started working for the NHS in an administration role. After nearly five years of doing this, I wanted to try to become a department manager and work my way up the ladder but having a degree was a requirement to progress beyond a certain level.

“I decided to take some time out from work to complete an undergraduate degree. After exploring my options as to how I could enrol on a course without A Levels, the Access to Higher Education course at Salisbury was the answer.

“Whilst on the course, my initial thoughts of studying an administration-related degree such as Business Studies changed, and I decided to enrol on a history-related course as this is my passion.

“After studying the Access to Higher Education course at Salisbury I went to Swansea University and studied an undergraduate degree and then obtained a PGDip.

“I was due to study a Masters degree in Roman Archaeology at the University of Exeter but Covid interrupted my plans and I decided to defer my course and complete it part-time, which I will be doing this year whilst working part-time as well.

“Whilst completing my Masters, I intend to volunteer with Wessex Archaeology as much as I can, with a view to working for them in a year.

“My ultimate aim is to complete a PhD, a PGCE or stay within the archaeology field. However, I suspect that a year or two worth of work experience should give me enough knowledge to embark upon a PhD – at least, I hope!

“My academic journey has been a success and it all started with the Access to Higher Education course at the College, so I owe everyone there a big thank-you.

“It had its ups and downs but I am very glad I did it. The challenge was great and I have become stronger in many ways by embarking upon it.”

Access to Higher Education courses are available at the College’s Lackham, Salisbury and Trowbridge campuses. For more information, click here.

PICTURE: Rhys Thomas (far left) during an archaeological visit to Pompeii during his time at Swansea University

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