A Wiltshire College & University Centre student is set to head off to one of the UK’s leading universities after being offered a place to read at the University of Cambridge.
Elsa Campbell-O’Rourke, who studies an Access to Higher Education course at the College’s Salisbury campus, will study Psychological and Behavioural Sciences at the prestigious institution.
The Access to Higher Education Diploma is a qualification which prepares people without traditional qualifications for study at university.
Elsa, aged 21, signed up to study one of these programmes at the College last summer having failed to finish her A Level courses while at school.
Focussing on the science pathway, Elsa has excelled throughout her year of study and will complete her programme in July. Subject to finalisation of her grades, she will start at Cambridge in September 2023 after choosing to defer her entry by a year.
Elsa said: “I am absolutely delighted and pretty shocked. It has been quite a challenging year of study but the lecturers at the College have been really helpful and their doors are always open if you need something explained.
“I chose the Access to Higher Education course because I didn’t really know what I wanted to do at university. I wanted to do something around psychology or social care but I wasn’t sure exactly what, and the science pathway of this course opened up several different areas of things I could do.
“I chose Psychological and Behavioural Sciences because it is something I have always been interested in since I started studying psychology during my GCSEs. My family have a history of mental health issues and I myself have too, and I have found it very interesting to study those things in a bit more depth.
“Career-wise I am very interested in the forensic side of psychology. I would love to do something with that but I don’t know exactly what yet. I might look to do a PHD afterwards or try to get into work.”
Elsa is also mother to a young son and says the support she has received from the College has helped her balance family life alongside her studies.
She said: “The support has been amazing. The College has been really accommodating in understanding if I need to do a lecture from home if my son is ill or has something on at nursery.
“And it has also been a while since I have been in education, so that was a little daunting, but the staff are always very supportive and happy to make time if you have any questions.
“My course finishes on 1st July and I will have a year’s break before starting at Cambridge. Next year I am planning to move to London with my partner, earn some money and take it from there. I chose to defer for a year as my son is only just turning three so I figured when he is starting school it will give me the time to go to university as it seems quite intense.”
Sue Bailey, Lecturer in Access to Higher Education at the College’s Salisbury campus, said: “We are all immensely proud of Elsa’s achievement – the application and interview process for Cambridge is particularly challenging. Elsa has demonstrated admirable determination and thorough preparation throughout the process. We wish her well as she sets out on this exciting journey.
“Access to Higher Education courses offer mature learners the opportunity to progress on to a wide range of vocational and academic degree courses at university.”
Access to Higher Education courses are available at the College’s Lackham, Salisbury and Trowbridge campuses. For more information, click here.