Ben grows in confidence on Criminology and Social Justice course

Photograph of UCEN Manchester student, Ben Goldsmith, in a classroom setting.

First year FdA Criminology and Criminal Justice student, Ben Goldsmith, travels for an hour by bus to take advantage of the one-to-one support available at UCEN Manchester’s School of Business and Law.

Ben progressed from The Manchester College to UCEN Manchester and has candidly shared his experience.  Ben's thoughts provide a unique perspective for anyone studying at Level 3 or below with aspirations of advancing to higher education.

What were you doing before you started your Foundation Degree?

“I studied at The Manchester College for four years in total.  I completed the Level 1 Health and Social Care course at the College’s Nicholls Campus, but the truth is it just wasn’t for me.

“After reflecting on my options, I enrolled on the Level 3 Public Services course, which was initially taught at the same campus, but I moved at the start of the final year of my course to the brand-new facilities at the College’s Openshaw Campus.”

Why did you choose UCEN Manchester?

“I’ll be honest, at first, I was undecided about what I wanted to do after finishing my Level 3 Public Services course.  I’d acquired the skills to pursue a career in the public services sector through my studies and considered joining the armed forces, but I was deterred by the application process in the end.

“Ultimately, I decided that I had the ability to progress to higher education.  I dedicated myself to my Level 3 course and this experience gave me the confidence I needed to apply for a Foundation Degree*.  I knew that if I applied myself in the same way as I’d done throughout my time at The Manchester College, there was no reason why I couldn’t continue to push myself and be successful at Level 4 and beyond.”

What’s the transition been like?

“Apart from the anxiety and self-doubt I’ve experienced about studying at Level 4, the transition from being a student at The Manchester College to starting my course at UCEN Manchester has been really easy and straight forward.

“You have to understand, I’m the first person in my household to go to university and I had to overcome a lot of challenges throughout my childhood, which led to me being expelled from high school.  My Nan is really proud of me and I’m sure all the teachers that helped me growing up would feel the same way if they could see me now.

“UCEN Manchester students have a dedicated building, and I was familiar with the campus from the final year of my Level 3 studies, so that was one less thing to worry about before I made the jump to higher education.  I’m based at the Openshaw Campus, but have access to the awarding partner’s facilities in the city centre.  There are also some familiar faces on my course, so progressing together was a really nice experience.

“The significant difference I’ve noticed between further education and higher education is the increased emphasis on personal responsibility, which is all part and parcel of growing as a person and preparing for the expectations employers have of their employees.”

What’s been the highlight of your time at UCEN Manchester so far?

“As part of the Criminal Law module, my classmates and I visited the Crown Court in Manchester to learn how the court system works, which was really insightful.

“Back to what I said earlier about anxiety, handing in my first assignment was a big deal and huge milestone for me personally.  It took a lot of weight off my shoulders – I’d never written a two thousand word essay before and it finally felt like I belonged in higher education.

“My Tutors have been incredible and are able to offer a unique perspective on things.  For example, Louise Kay did the same course I’m on, which means she has a great understanding of what we’re all going through.

“I’d also like to mention the students in my class.  There are about 12 of us in total, so it’s a small, tight-knit group and we all look out for each other.  It’s really reassuring to know that there are people to talk to when needed.”

Is there anything that you think is unique about your course and UCEN Manchester?

“I weighed up all my options before coming to UCEN Manchester and looked at studying the same subject at other universities in the city, which are a lot closer to home.

"However, after attending two open events and speaking at length with one of my course Tutors, Angela Tobin, I was reassured by the one-to-one support on offer and small class sizes at UCEN Manchester.  I’m autistic and as a result, this level of support is really important to me and makes a massive difference.

“The bursary I got for progressing from The Manchester College to UCEN Manchester was helpful as well – I used it to buy a bus pass, which gets plenty of use!”

Ben is driven to make a positive difference to peoples’ lives and has aspirations of studying Mental Health Nursing after finishing his Foundation Degree.

Find out more information about the Criminology and Social Justice courses available at UCEN Manchester and apply now.

Alternatively, get in touch via 03333 222 777 or online.


*Foundation Degrees (FdA or FdSc) are designed to combine practical work-based learning with academic study and aim to train you for a specific job.  The qualification is often favoured by students who want to work and study at the same time.  Once you have completed your Foundation Degree you can go straight into work or you can ‘top-up’ your studies to achieve a full degree.