Liberal Arts

Paige, Liberal Arts student


Paige talks to us about the social mobility charity, the 93% Club, and how she is helping the next generation have a better future.

We also discussed what studying Liberal Arts is like and how it feels to be the first in your family to go to uni.

Paige Dainels photo 1 crop


What is the 93% Club?

"The 93% Club is a nationwide members' club for people who went to state school. The name comes from the fact that 93% of pupils in the UK are state educated yet this isn't represented in top jobs. So for example, only 35% of senior judges and around 30% of FTSE CEOs are from a state school background. Research shows there is a much higher chance of getting into professions such as law or medicine if you already have family members working in them, so we're trying to redress that imbalance. 

At Nottingham, we do this by building connections in industry. This year, we took a group of members to the central London law firm, Morgan Lewis for a networking careers day. We also had a day where members could get free LinkedIn professional headshots taken to improve their online presence and soon, we're hoping to hold some LinkedIn workshops to help members improve their career opportunities through the platform.

I'm the Schools Officer of the Nottingham branch, so I will go into local state schools to talk to them about higher education and give advice on university applications. 

We also work on making sure that, once state educated pupils arrive at Nottingham, they feel like they belong.

I actually went to a different university before Nottingham and really struggled due the class differences within the student community. With my accent and family background, I felt like university wasn't for me. So I decided to transfer to a different university.

I spoke to a friend at UoN and asked her her opinion on the state/private divide here and she didn't know what I was talking about. That helped me to decide to come to Nottingham. Now that I am here, I can say I haven't experienced that strong division at Nottingham, however, I continue to be passionate about encouraging state-educated students to enter University and feel very lucky there are societies like the 93% Club there to aid the transition."

What is it like studying Liberal Arts? 

"As not many universities do Liberal Arts it was quite hard to get good advice about the subject from my teachers, so I got in touch with Ross Wilson, the UoN Liberal Arts course leader, and shared all my worries and reservations with him. He put a lot of my anxieties to rest and was really thorough in getting back to me which was great. I'm pleased he did as I'm absolutely loving the course now. I love the freedom of it. 

A lot of the problems in the world can't be solved by looking at them from the perspective of a single discipline or framework.

Liberal Arts gives you the opportunity to take a problem and look at it through so many different frameworks and a variety of disciplines. You also work with people taking different subjects, so our discussions are always really amazing as we approach topics from different viewpoints.

Although the Liberal Arts cohort study across a variety of subject areas, we take our core modules together and I feel it's a nice little family that you keep coming back to. Liberal Arts people tend to pop up in all sorts of subject lectures, it's always nice to see a friendly face when you walk in! We also have an active Liberal Arts Society and the Liberal Arts Netball club, so it can be really social.

I have a real interest in social mobility and equality. One day I hope to work in educational policy and have been able to tailor my modules to help me work towards this. I've taken a module from the School of Education that looks at politics in the school curriculum and another from the School of English which talks about the kinds of books you might study in school. So although English and Education may seen like two very different subjects, they actually complelement one another very well."

Liberal Arts lets you access so much of the university that you can have the freedom to follow what you enjoy, and by the end of it, you'll find your perfect degree

What was it like taking a module at the Langauge Centre?

"I gave up French at GSCE level and was really happy to discover I could pick it up again at the Language Centre without having to major in it. I've enjoyed learning a language alongside my studies as it uses a different part of my brain. It's a different teaching style to my other lectures and seminars, it's more classroom based with much smaller classes. You also meet, and get to chat with, people from across the university whose path you'd never otherwise have crossed but you'll always find common ground in the language you're learning."

How did being the first in your family to come to uni affect you?

I think there's a there's an element to being a first generation student that makes the experience feel a little bit more difficult.

"I didn't feel fully prepared when I started uni and felt a bit lost, particularly with the academic side. This lead to me feeling imposter syndrome as it seemed everybody else knew what they were doing, and it was just me that felt lost.

Two of the things that helped me resolve this were academic skills sessions  and ResX (residential experience) activities. I found the academic skills sessions really useful and have attended a lot of them for guidance in things such as essay writing, referencing and proofreading. The residential experience activities were really helpful too, they helped me settle into the uni community by meeting lots of people. I'd definitely advise new students to take advantage of these."

How do you define success?

"How I define success has changed over my time at uni. When I started uni, I defined success by the grades I achieved. And although I still value that, now I define success as finding education enjoyable - being happy in what I'm studying and feeling at home here is success to me now."


Paige's advice for future Liberal Arts students

  • Take modules which interest you. Don't try to plan them all out from the very beginning because who you are, and what your interests are, change so much between the first and final years at uni.
  • Get to know your Liberal Arts peers. It takes a particular kind of person to do Liberal Arts so you'll find that your fellow students have similar goals and ethos to you.

Go further

Find out more about studying Liberal Arts

University of Nottingham

University Park
Nottingham, NG7 2RD

telephone: +44 (0) 115 951 5151
fax: +44 (0) 115 951 3666
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