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Adult returner journeys through HE to STEM careers

Lead Institution: Plymouth University
Collaborating with: Katalytik, University of Bristol, University of the West of England, The Open University, South Devon College, Devon and Somerset Training Provider Network, STEMNET, University of Bath, Open College Network South West Region, Major Minor Media

Project Summary

Making  the life-changing decision to return to education as an adult and, in particular, to study science or engineering is a daunting step for many and requires past fears to be confronted alongside concerns about financial security.

Science lecture at Plymouth University

Science lecture at Plymouth University

Finding out about studying options is supposedly easier than ever with widespread access to the internet, however, for some it presents as a mass of disjointed information. The South West of England is lucky to have the Lifepilot website ( to provide a gateway to education and careers information. The HE STEM project, Adult returner journeys through HE to STEM careers, has enriched the resources available to potential returners to education through the provision of 24 stories of people’s journeys to gaining a higher education qualification in science, technology, engineering and maths-related subjects (STEM subjects).

The project has also enabled the production of a striking and informative video, The whys and hows of getting back into education, for use on all institutions’ websites and at open days about the challenges, support and opportunities available. Kate Bellingham, TV presenter and science journalist, kindly agreed to do the narration for this video.

The resources are being disseminated widely via the Lifepilot website, the SW Spoke website, institutional websites and relevant JISC mail lists so that they are available, not only to potential adult returners to STEM higher education, but also to widening participation and community outreach officers, careers advisers and level 3 tutors who can use them to enhance their work by communicating the opportunities in ways that can reach wider groups of people.

You can find out more about the implementation of the project from the final project report.

Martin graduates from the University of Bath

Martin graduates from the University of Bath

Staff involved

Prof David Harwood
Project lead, Plymouth University

Jan Peters
Project coordinator, Katalytik

Betsy Bowerman
University of Bristol

Carol Rothwell

Deborah Mcallister
University of the West of England

Dr Ruth Williams
The Open University

Dr Tracey Sweet
South Devon College

Gary Ayles
Devon and Somerset Training Provider Network

Heather Campbell

Julie Kirkby
The Open University

Karen Dickens

Rob Martin
University of Bath

Stephanie Hulford
Open College Network South West Region

Sue Lewis
University of Bath

Tom Staniford
Major Minor Media