Record number of community-based graduates

A record number of mature students who started out on community-based short courses will graduate with full degrees from the University of Leeds this year.

The eight students, who were introduced to higher education through the University's Lifelong Learning Centre, will be awarded Bachelor of Arts qualifications from the Department of Arabic and Middle Eastern Studies at a graduation ceremony on 11 July 2011.

All of the students began their university careers studying for just a few hours a week in their local community, by taking short courses in Arabic and Islamic Studies. These courses are part of the Lifelong Learning Centre's work to help adults from under-represented groups to progress through Higher Education.

Subjects include Arabic Language, Islamic history, the interpretation of religious texts and issues facing Muslims in Britain today. The courses are delivered across Leeds, Bradford and Batley in community centres, libraries and schools.

After completing the short courses, the students were able to start full-time BA degree programmes with the University's Department of Arabic and Middle Eastern Studies. Kareema Crawford, one of the students who will graduate on Monday with a BA in Arabic and Islamic Studies said she "thought that university was for other people" before she heard about the Lifelong Learning Centre.

"Without a doubt, the Lifelong Learning Centre gave me the confidence I needed to progress into the unknown world of university," she said. "Without it, university would have been just a building to me where others obtain degrees."

Dr Samar Al-Afandi, Programme Manager in the Lifelong Learning Centre, said: "These courses enable members of the local community to experience the University, which is a great way to encourage them to go on to a degree programme when they may never have previously considered doing so."

Mustapha Sheikh, the Admissions Tutor in the Department of Arabic and Middle Eastern Studies, added:  "The performance of these students was on a par with, or exceeded, that of others who entered the Department through more conventional routes. This is of no surprise as the Lifelong Learning Centre courses provide a wonderful training ground for students."

Read more about the courses run by the Lifelong Learning Centre.

Posted in: