“At the age of 36 I decided to get off my backside and change my situation.” Those are the words of ex-submariner Jason Tomlinson, from Derbyshire, who left school with no qualifications and is now facing the challenges of undergraduate life as a mature student at The University of Nottingham.
His determination to succeed has just been rewarded with a highly sought after Helena Kennedy Foundation Award worth £1,500 — in recognition of his achievement in reaching higher education.
Jason, who served in the Royal Navy as an electrical marine engineer on board H.M.S. Resolution — a Polaris submarine, said: “The importance of the bursary is beyond measure. Starting university can be extremely overwhelming. This bursary not only helps out financially but re-affirms the belief that all the effort is worthwhile.”
Jason’s award is funded by The University of Nottingham and was presented to him at the House of Lords by human rights lawyer and President of the Foundation, Baroness Helena Kennedy QC.
Baroness Kennedy said: “This award recognises Jason’s huge achievement in reaching university against the odds. Each student who receives an award has been selected because they are special and have shown real talent and determination.”
Jason, who is married with two school aged children, is in his first year of a BSc (Hons) Biochemistry degree. He left school at the age of 16 with no qualifications. After leaving the Royal Navy he worked in several factories. He said: “I watched my I.Q. drop by the second. Finally at the age of 36 I decided to get off my backside and change my situation. I took redundancy and started an Access course at Chesterfield College. With a lot of effort and some luck, two years later I find myself at The University of Nottingham.”
Dr Penelope Griffin, Head of Widening Participation at the University of Nottingham, said “I’m delighted that Jason has received this award in recognition of his achievements. Returning to education after a long gap is difficult — and all the more so while balancing studies with family responsibilities. Jason’s success in gaining a place on this very competitive course is remarkable.”
The Helena Kennedy Foundation works with colleges and universities across the UK to support access to higher education through bursaries, mentoring and work placements. Jason’s award from the Foundation is funded by The University of Nottingham. The University has an active outreach programme to encourage young people and mature learners to progress to university, which reaches over 22,000 learners annually. Last year the University provided over £6m in bursaries to low-income students.
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The University is committed to providing a truly international education for its 39,000 students, producing world-leading research and benefiting the communities around its campuses in the UK and Asia.
More than 90 per cent of research at The University of Nottingham is of international quality, according to the most recent Research Assessment Exercise, with almost 60 per cent of all research defined as ‘world-leading’ or ‘internationally excellent’. Research Fortnight analysis of RAE 2008 ranked the University 7th in the UK by research power.
The University’s vision is to be recognised around the world for its signature contributions, especially in global food security, energy & sustainability, and health.
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The Helena Kennedy Foundation was founded in 1998 by Dr Ann Limb to take forward recommendations from ‘Learning Works’, the seminal report by Baroness Helena Kennedy QC, the President of the Foundation. The charity, based in Bletchley Park in Milton Keynes, provides bursaries, mentoring and work placements to support students from disadvantaged backgrounds to progress from Further Education colleges into higher education.