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Student Malek Abdorab lying on the floor holding a sign that says 'I AM hopeful'

Malek Abdorab

Civil Engineering - BEng (Hons)

With a young family and a full time job to juggle alongside his plans for a new career, Malek re-assessed his university options and applied for a new course through Clearing which was much closer to home. Within weeks, he had his place at BCU and has now secured a year-long placement with a top-three employer in the civil engineering industry.

"I had applied through UCAS in the main cycle to multiple universities outside of Birmingham to study maths with the aim of becoming a teacher. After applying, the reality of my responsibility as a parent really hit home. I knew that having to commute into a different city to attend uni would be a massive strain on my time. It would also mean I wouldn’t be able to keep my job as a bank business manager, which obviously I need to be able to keep to pay my mortgage and bills. I came to the realisation that even though pursuing teaching would be a stable career I wasn’t really that passionate about it, it was more a means to an end.

As I was approaching 30 and returning to uni as a mature student I wanted to be absolutely certain about what I was signing up for and make sure it was a degree I was excited to study, would give me a qualification to move into industry and would be a degree I was proud to have gained. I knew it was going to be real challenge trying to juggle being a parent to two young children (my son was a newborn as I headed into my first year) with full-time study and part-time work and something just didn’t feel right about my initial course and uni choices. So, I decided to trust my gut and decline my uni places.

I knew I needed to find a uni that was closer to home to allow me to still make my work commitments manageable but would also give me the time to achieve a solid qualification to progress my career. I researched universities in and around Birmingham and was intrigued by Birmingham City University’s Civil Engineering course and drawn to the fact that the University was located in the heart of the city. I had previously studied an engineering access course so I was in a position that I would be able to apply for this. I started to research the career options and managed to speak with a few people who also studied on the course and had a great experience. I realised that the course offered a really great mix of academic and practical work in the city which was ideal for what I needed and opened doors for me to work towards a career as a chartered engineer.

I had assumed I would need to wait until the next UCAS cycle to be able to apply, but I learned about Clearing on the BCU website and applied about a few weeks before semester started. I came into the uni on a Clearing Open Day and was able to complete my application there and then. This made the process so quick and easy which was really ideal as I imminently flew out to Tanzania, Africa to do some volunteering work.

Find a course in Clearing

See what courses are currently available through Clearing.

As a mature student, who was nervous about attending university and the uncertainty that presented, I must say that studying at BCU has really given me a great student experience. I have been able to excel and get the support I needed. I have just completed my second year, during a pandemic! BCU was able to adapt to these circumstances and have made it a seamless transition to remote learning. We were able to still complete all the planned hands-on practical work in the last semester.

Ultimately, Clearing has worked out so well for me as I’ve ended up on a course that I really enjoy and I’ve secured a really fantastic placement with a top-three civil engineering employer, Atkins. I will be doing a 12 month full-time placement in Birmingham starting in September. Even though it’s a little bit daunting, I’m really excited to be able to take a step back from my current job role and dive into my placement. I’m really hopeful to see where my placement takes me and what I can start to achieve in my career."

Malek has some great advice for anyone who is nervous about applying later on in Clearing or has hesitations about applying as a mature student.

“It’s not too late to apply or change your university. Pick up the phone or visit and be prepared to consider alternative options. The BCU ambassadors and course representative were so welcoming and open to compromise with regards to grades, expectations and even start dates. They were very encouraging from the first point of contact. Don’t be afraid to reach out and ask for help.”