Distance-learning leads to first qualification and award

University of Leicester student overcomes health issues to achieve award for Adult Learners’ Week

Issued by National Institute of Adult Continuing Education on 9 May 2011

Stephen Brown, aged 58, from Barnstaple in Devon, has gained his first qualification through distance-learning, despite having to deal with physical and mental health problems at the same time. His dedication and commitment to learning is being recognised with a Regional Individual Award as part of the 20th Adult Learners’ Week.

Living in a residential care home with physical and mental health problems meant that the flexibility and pace of distance-learning worked best for Stephen and in June 2007 he gained his first qualification – a Certificate in Archaeology from the University of Exeter. Just a month later Stephen began a Diploma distance-learning course with the University of Leicester’s School of Archaeology, passing in June 2010. Stephen gained consistently good grades through the determination and self-motivation that is required with distance-learning, despite numerous health setbacks along the way, and is now enrolled on a BA Archaeology programme so he can obtain a degree.

Nominator Ruth said of Stephen, “Without archaeology his doctor has said that he would be dead, and that through studying he has come to believe that he is not a ‘loser’.” Stephen said, “This course is giving me back my self-esteem and confidence and I would say to anyone in my situation, don’t give up, anything is possible – as I have proved.”

John Hayes, Minister for Further Education, Skills and Lifelong Learning, said, "I whole-heartedly congratulate all the individuals and organisations who have received an Adult Learners’ Week Award.  Their inspiring stories bring to light the power that learning has to transform the lives of people of all ages, encourage social mobility and build a better society." 

Alan Tuckett, NIACE Chief Executive, said, “The stories of our award winners once again this year, the 20th Adult Learners’ Week, illustrate the overwhelmingly positive impact that learning has on people’s lives. The transformation that Stephen has experienced is due to his dedication, persistence and ambition. I hope that adults across the country will be inspired by Stephen’s story to take up learning and discover for themselves a whole new life.”

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