Liam’s Story

What was your pathway since leaving school?

At 16 after year 11 I moved to Bradford to pursue a career in rugby league for the Bradford Bulls and Leeds Rhinos where I stayed for 3 years. From there, at 19 I moved home to return to education at Lakes College to complete my BTEC in engineering which allowed me to get an apprenticeship at Atkins Global as a design apprentice. After a year of my apprenticeship I left to go to uni where I am this year graduating with a masters in Engineering.

What made you come back to education?

After spending 3 years pursuing a Rugby League career I decided I wanted to get something behind me while I played part time. Not really having a clue what I wanted to do, I probably just followed in my brothers footsteps as he had been at Bradford uni doing an engineering degree while I was living there. Plus I knew I enjoyed maths and physics at school so though engineering could be a good fit.


What courses did you start with, where did you study and why did you choose that course?

After completing my BTEC in Engineering at Lakes College, I did an apprenticeship at Atkins Global as a design apprentice. After a year of my apprenticeship I left to go to Northumbria University where I studied Mechanical Engineering. I chose this course because I enjoyed maths at school and following my brother’s path.


What kind of barriers or concerns did you encounter? How did you work through these? Who supported you? Where did you find help?

No real barriers, just lots of assignment work


Looking back to that decision to return to education, what advice would you give yourself now that you’ve completed your course?

Definitely enjoy those first few years going out and meeting new people but also put the work in early, building good habits goes a long way in balancing everything.


What would you want others who are thinking about returning to education to know?

Anyone can succeed


What did you go on to do after gaining the qualifications you chose?

I’ve travelled to Australia with my girlfriend where I worked as an engineer while playing Rugby League semi-professionally.


How do you think returning to education as an adult is different to continuing into college and then uni from school?

I think getting that little bit of life experience after school definitely helped me deal with the stresses of university better and it allowed me time to think about what I actually wanted to do.


How many different plates did you have to spin in your personal/professional life? Where does/did study fit in? E.g.) are you a parent or have someone you care for, do you work etc?

It is tough trying to have the balance of having fun, doing university work, going to lectures and training but I think that is all part of the experience. I learned that you can’t do everything and you have to make sacrifices if you want to succeed in your degree and if you work hard and put the hours in, you can get whatever grade you want. This lesson has definitely helped in other areas of my life too. I was playing rugby part time so that was a struggle juggling exams and assignments with training and playing in the first couple of years then as I prioritised my time more and worked I little harder, it got easier I balanced everything by prioritising my time better. Started going to sleep and getting up earlier which gave me more time to study and train.


What benefits has returning to education brought you?

It has given me the skills to be able to pursue a career in a field I know I will enjoy and it has given me the confidence to know that if you put the time and work in, you will be successful in whatever you’re doing.

What five words do you associate with your higher education journey?

Fun, hard work, rewarding, achievable