Mathew gets his degree after Covid career change

On the left is the UCEN Manchester logo. On the right is a selfie of Mathew Barber.

After deciding to go back into education “on a whim” during the Covid-19 pandemic, Mathew Barber is now heading for a rewarding career in Computing.

He’s completed a BA (Hons) Top-up degree in Software Development with UCEN Manchester and achieved first class honours, a goal he says he is both “proud” and “grateful” to have achieved.

We spoke to Mathew about his journey and what made studying at UCEN Manchester so special.

Why did you choose to study at UCEN Manchester?

As I had completed a HNC and HND in Computing at Warrington and Vale Royal College, I was looking for a course that would consider this when applying. UCEN Manchester had several computer courses that interested me, such as Cyber Security and Networking. But I opted for the Software Development Top-up after seeing what was offered on the course.

I believed that a better understanding of Web Development and Programming would put me in the best position for employment afterwards. The icing on the cake was when they accepted my application and I only needed to do a single year to complete the degree.

How do you feel now you have achieved your qualification?

There doesn’t seem to be the right words out there to describe how I feel. I went to college on a whim during Covid-19, hoping to gain some direction for the future. What I found was a passion for software development and a thirst for knowledge I didn’t know I had. 

So, I could say I’m proud of myself for getting here, but I think the best word to use would be grateful. Grateful to have reached this point, and to have achieved what I have, but also grateful for everyone who has helped along the way, be it tutors for pushing me to do better or classmates like Peter Connell who have supported me to be the best I can be.

How did you find your time studying with us?

At times it was difficult, I can’t lie. Coming from a different college to UCEN Manchester meant new tutors and new standards to try to learn. Also, this was a specialist subject and I was coming from a general computing course, so there was a steep learning curve. But everyone was very welcoming and never made me feel like an outsider; the whole class was always willing to help with studying. 

What was the best thing about studying with us?

The people. Even when all the classes got together for the research lessons, it was fun. I think one of the main things I will take with me is how kind, funny and warm-hearted some people really are because without those moments of laughter and joy on the course there would be no release from the pressure.

Following completion of your course what will you do next?

I’m currently interviewing for two career paths. One is to train towards a teaching role, teaching Computer Science at high school or college level. The other is a graduate scheme to continue as a software developer.

What are your long term career aspirations?

I’m guessing due to my age, my long-term aspirations are different to most. Whatever career path I choose I’m sure I will be challenged and be able to move up the leadership ladder. But I’d love to make a difference in my spare time and use my newfound skills to help. 

I would love to be able to use my Software Development degree to somehow help an animal charity in some way, as animals are my other passion.

Would you recommend UCEN Manchester to other people and why?

UCEN Manchester is a great place to study; it offers many different courses and as I was based at City Campus Manchester, which has all brand-new equipment. Whether you are coming from a different college or staying on from a previous year, you will be made welcome. 

The course is well-rounded, so you get to learn relevant subject areas. It also has some fantastic tutors that have amazing knowledge of their subject areas and are willing to go the extra mile to help you whenever it is needed.

Find out more about courses at UCEN Manchester’s School of Computing and Cybersecurity.