Former hospital chef from Wigan engineers a dream career change

I wanted to challenge myself, says John-Paul
I wanted to challenge myself, says John-Paul
Promoted by Wigan & Leigh College

Higher level qualification without the high price tag has helped local man John-Paul Sweeney (30) find his perfect job.

The former hospital chef studied at the University Centre Wigan & Leigh College achieving the HND Electrical and Electronic Engineering.

Having already accomplished Distinction* Distinction*Distinction* for the BTEC Level 3 Extended Diploma in Electrical and Electronic Engineering, he decided to push himself further by joining the University Centre.

"I wanted to challenge myself, as I thought it would be the one of the more difficult courses,” said John-Paul.

The father-of-two is now enjoying his job as an inspection and test engineer for Thermal Hire. He has his sights set on becoming a project engineer.

Cutting cost not quality

With an average annual cost of more than £9,000, university tuition fees in England are among the highest in the world.

For some, this cost is enough to put them off pursuing their education dreams.

However, more and more students are opting for higher education colleges to get a degree without the high price tag.

The University Centre Wigan & Leigh College works in partnership with the University of Central Lancashire (UCLan) and Pearson Edexcel.

It offers Foundation Degrees, Higher National Certificates, Higher National

Diplomas, Top-up Degrees and professional and post-graduate courses, as well as higher and degree apprenticeships.

What is a university centre?

University centres offer students the chance to study higher education qualifications on their doorstep.

At the University Centre Wigan & Leigh College there are more than 30 courses and career pathways.

Higher level and degree courses are available for £7,500 or less, meaning learning locally isn’t just a convenient option, but a cost-effective one.

Students can save on course fees and expensive accommodation and smaller class sizes mean they get more contact time with tutors.

A history of education

The University Centre is a giant leap from the college’s early days as a training school for mineworkers.

Founded in 1857 as Wigan and District Mining and Technical College it taught students engineering, maths, geology, chemistry and physics.

However, its evolution to higher education status more than 70 years ago was a turning point transforming the lives of thousands of young people.

As well as offering the chance to gain better qualifications, it brought the prospect of a life beyond the pits.

In 1956 there were just 17 graduates from the college, each paying around 15 guineas a session for a qualification linked to University of London.

There are now more than 600 students studying for higher education qualifications.

The range of courses on offer is much wider than that offered to early students but still includes areas such as civil, electrical and mechanical engineering.

There are also some courses miners might not have been so familiar with, including computing, travel and tourism and criminology and sociology.

Find out more

The University Centre offers a range of qualifications for full and part-time students.

Course areas include business management, creative industries and new media, education, STEM subjects, sport and health and social care.

With millions of pounds invested in new facilities, resources and equipment, now is the perfect time to take the next step in your higher education journey.

Apply now or visit Higher Education Advice and Enrolment events on Tuesday June 25, Thursday August 15, and Tuesday August 27, 2-7pm at Parsons Walk Centre, Wigan.