Stacey-Jane Manton-Bissell

Criminology – BA

It’s never too late to change direction, and follow a new path in a field which sparks your curiosity. Stacey-Jane has done just that – swapping her NHS administration role for a degree in criminology after re-evaluating her circumstances, and what she wanted out of life. She now balances, family life, personal finance and study at BCU.

‘During the pandemic, I worked as an NHS administrator on a Covid-19 ward. Having seen so much stress and sadness, it made me realise that life is short and it was time I pursued my dreams. I decided to apply for an Access to Higher Education course at my local college. Being a mother in my thirties, I never thought I would get into uni. But having settled well into the course and getting much higher grades than I ever expected, I decided to try, and I applied for University. I have always had an interest in everything relating to criminology, true crime and the criminal mind, and when I looked into the course, I was really impressed with the resources, links and lectures at BCU. I didn’t expect to be offered a place so I was overjoyed when I was given an unconditional offer. I attended a taster day which re-assured me that BCU was keen to support mature students like myself. I honestly feel that if I had applied for university when I was younger, I would have dropped out as I didn’t know what I wanted to do. Since then I have experienced real life situations that now make me want to do this even more. I am now halfway through my first semester and loving every minute of it!

Initially I started on the Psychology with Criminology course, however after a few weeks I realised I prefer the Criminology side of things. The admin team, course leads and my personal tutor helped me move courses to do Criminology, they supported me with catching up on the first few weeks and made the whole process really easy.

Starting a full-time degree meant I was unable to continue in my full-time job, and one of my biggest concerns was financing myself through the course. However, I was able to get a maintenance loan to support myself whilst studying.

I have grown in the past few months by learning new things and facing new challenges. It's certainly helped calm my anxiety, as I now commute via train despite never using public transport before. And my studies give me a goal and purpose to work for which makes me even more determined to succeed. Most importantly, I feel happier- I am doing something I always wanted to do and really enjoying it.

As a mature student the hardest thing is balancing my home life, work, family and university work. I find the best way to overcome this is to make a study plan, which helps me set aside set times for studying. I also use time on the train journey by reading core texts or journals related to my subject as this is extra time I wouldn't have had if I drove to uni. I also find it important to give myself some time to relax, have breaks and do something with the family as this is important.

Welcome Week really helped me when I first started and I would recommend that any new starter should go. I got to know my lecturers, seminar leaders, as well as other people on my course throughout the week, which settled me in quickly. There are lots of activities available to help you find your way around campus and get used to uni life. The staff at the Welcome Week supported me by giving lots of advice on where to go for further assistance, financial help and how to find work around university. Since Welcome Week, I have joined a few societies to get to know more people around university, I have joined the criminology, mature students and commuters societies. Everyone at uni makes you feel very comfortable when on campus and in societies. Having previously suffered with anxiety and being a mature student, I was worried about how I would fit in, but putting myself out there has really helped.

I aim to achieve my undergraduate degree with a good grade and hope to take part in some work experience or a placement related to my field of interest, as well as completing my silver and gold graduate+ awards as I have already completed my Graduate+ bronze award.

‘I am BCU’ means being a part of a diverse community of students in a vibrant city who all strive to do their best and aspire to do incredible things. I am proud to attend and represent BCU.’