Weekly Blog 4: Spousal University

Hey all! Hope you had a nice bank holiday weekend and a bit of a chill. In the wombat household, this came after a pretty stressful week as my wife dealt with Sheffield Hallam University. Pull up a chair and grab a cuppa, here’s how we got Chammy into uni!

Chammy’s Told No

No Made from Yes

My wife (Chammy – short for Chermaine. Yes I know that’s not a real name, I’ve been telling her that for years…) applied for university around the same time I did. That was back in June, at which point with my limited knowledge of the application process, I thought we were both too late.

She’s been interested in nutrition in a medical sense for a long time and has blogged about the subject when she’s passionate about the cause. Our son is only a few years away from high school now so it seemed the perfect time to retrain. Thus, an application to SHU is made, considered and promptly rejected for their Nutrition with Public Health degree course.

Chammy was mortified, as was I.

Chammy Applies to College

“Never fear,” we say, looking deeply into each other’s eyes (or not). Chammy can just go to college for a year instead. There’s an access higher education diploma course at Sheffield College that focuses on nutrition and other health disciplines.

Chammy applies and weeks pass with us still confused about her rejection from the university. The reason on her UCAS Track page said insufficient qualifications. This is despite her having a full level three diploma in childcare and education worth three A-levels at grades AAB. Or so she was told by her college course tutor in ye olden times.

We don’t question it and instead choose to wait for a decision from college and maybe try clearing when the process starts.

Chammy Gets into College – Clearing Begins

Make it happen written on a book

After several weeks of waiting, Chammy gets an offer of a place from Sheffield College. She accepts the offer with an enrollment date set for the 30th of August. She’s sceptical at this point about persisting with Sheffield Hallam through clearing. The note about the lack of qualifications has hit her confidence somewhat.

On the morning clearing begins I’m listening to the radio as I’m driving home from my night at work. Record numbers of places. Universities desperate to fill courses. That’s what I’m hearing from the morning reports on the BBC.

To hell with it! I get home and wake Chammy a few minutes before the clearing lines open at six thirty in the morning. We pick up the phone…

Chammy is Crushed

Question marks some glowing orange

My wife speaks to a clearing representative with a renewed sense of hope. She’s clear and concise on the phone. I’m quietly confident with the knowledge that she has a strong college education behind her in the back of my mind.

Let’s be clear here. Chammy is applying for a course that has an entry requirement on the website of only sixty-four UCAS points. That’s a single strong A-level in any subject, plus English, maths and science at GCSE.

The agent on the phone turns her away after a short conversation. Qualifications not sufficient. We don’t understand.

Wombat Uses the Internet

Frustrated and with Chammy in tears wondering where she went wrong I turn to the UCAS points calculator site and Google. It’s then that I discover Chammy’s qualification, a CACHE Diploma, has been renamed. You can still study exactly the same course at college, but it’s now called an NCFE diploma.

I search for the CACHE Diploma on google and, after a short while sifting through results, I stumble upon the UCAS points grading guidelines. These are from several years ago before the UCAS points grading system was changed. I’ve found exactly what we need though.

The document clearly states that the diploma is worth the same number of UCAS points as three A-levels graded in accordance with the certificate. For Chammy, this means two A’s and a B. Jackpot!

University Wars Episode VI: Revenge of the Chammy

Yes Made of No

On the strength of this new information, we call back through on the clearing line. Chammy immediately explains her confusion at her being told her qualifications aren’t good enough. She raises the points from the documentation I’ve found on the internet. She recounts her two years spent at college, full-time, studying for this diploma.

The lady on the other end of the line is stunned, confused and best of all, in agreement.

She takes Chammy through a new application on the phone, raises the issue with her supervisor and requests that Chammy sends photos of her certificates over on an email. She then forwards this on to the head of admissions requesting that it be reviewed.

There’s another agonising wait of a few days and then Chammy gets the email we’ve been waiting for. She’s in, a welcome to Sheffield Hallam, here’s your student number.

The Moral of This Weeks Blog

I realise the post for this week says very little about me or my journey towards attending a university. It does show just how important it is to not only be persistent but to know your own value. Even institutions as large as universities make mistakes.

If we hadn’t challenged that decision, Chammy’s year would have been wasted doing an access course she absolutely didn’t need to do!

Congratulations oh spouse of mine! It’ll be a weird but interesting adventure going to uni together!

You can catch up with previous entries here!

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Virtual Wombat

Hi, I'm Aaron. I'm a full time working dad and a student studying Physics in Sheffield. This blog is an account of my adventures as a busy, working mature student.

4 Responses

  1. Invisibly Me says:

    A very good moral of the story that is too – persistence and knowing your own worth (as well as investigating things off your own (wom)bat sometimes) are so important. Hurrah for Chammy!

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