The journey from further education to undergraduate

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Article by: Gaynor Orvis

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After a decade-long hiatus from education, 36-year-old Mitchel Ceney has recently reawakened his creative side. Mitchel's path back to education began after he began working with Accumulate, a homeless charity which hosts creative workshops at hostels in London and now across the rest of the country. Accumulate has been working closely with Ravensbourne since as far back as 2014. 

After showing his drawings to Accumulate founder Marice Cumber, Mitchel was invited to take part in ‘The Book of Homelessness’, a project to launch the first ever graphic novel created by people affected by homelessness.  

Through his ongoing commitment to Accumulate, and as his confidence in his creative abilities grew, he was encouraged to take an Access to Higher Education course at Ravensbourne. Through Ravensbourne's internal FE to UG scheme, Mitchel is now eligible to continue his studies to undergraduate degree. He is now preparing to begin his BA (Hons) Illustration for Communication course in September. All students that choose to stay on to undergraduate level at Ravensbourne are also eligible for the Internal Progression Scheme, which is worth £500.  

We caught up with Mitchel to discuss his time at Ravensbourne and the benefits of progressing internally.  

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Why did you choose to stay on at Ravensbourne?   

After I had completed my Access to Higher Education course at Ravensbourne, although I felt I had learnt a lot, my confidence in my own abilities was still low. I hadn’t completed my portfolio on time and was behind on my work – at the time I was going through a rehabilitation programme. 

However, with lots of support from the tutors and Student Services team at Ravensbourne, I decided to stay on at Ravensbourne at undergraduate level. I was already familiar with the building and the way things worked within the university, and so it felt like a really natural thing to do to stay on for my degree. 

I had been out of formal education for around a decade and so I was pretty out of practice with things like completing deadlines. Sending off my portfolio to other universities filled me with so much apprehension. However, the guidance I have had from Student Services has been invaluable. All the staff have made me feel so welcome – I got a strong feeling that they all really cared. 

What are some of the benefits of progressing internally? 

To know that I only had to pass the access course in order to progress to undergraduate level was a massive weight off my shoulders. The ultimate goal was just to have to the opportunity to attend. 

The Internal Progression Award (which offers students that stay on at Ravensbourne £500) was obviously a massive incentive. But honestly for me, just knowing that I had a confirmed place was the best feeling. 

Having that prior knowledge of how the processes within the university work, as well as having the chance to progress with a couple of friends has made the whole process feel really easy. I already feel at home here, and this, in turn, is a great confidence boost. Plus, being able to share my space with other budding creatives and being a part of such a collaborative and forward-thinking environment is pretty special. With the launch of the Institute for Creativity and Technology it feels like a very exciting time to be here. 

The process was very straightforward too. There was a simple form to fill in, and I was sent plenty of reminders to make sure I didn’t miss any of the deadlines. 

What did you learn during your further education course which has helped you at undergraduate level? 

I learnt a lot about my individual learning style; how I need to break things down and separate things into individual tasks. I learnt about the instructions I respond best to and how I handle written work compared with hands-on creative work. Being able to understand has really helped me to manage my work more efficiently. 

My confidence when it came to working independently, without help from the tutors, was quite low at the beginning of the year. I have learnt that if I am struggling with anything, to always ask for help. I am also a lot more confident when it comes to managing my own time and understanding the type of environment I work best in. I look forward to continue to grow and develop my work at degree level. 

Find out more information about the FE to UG progression scheme at Ravensbourne.