Degree courses in Rotherham: learners or all ages encouraged to embrace #mytime

Worried your chance of higher education and getting a degree has passed you by? Think again, with the #mytime campaign right here in Rotherham

A major campaign to encourage adult learners to return to higher education has been launched in Rotherham, urging people to embrace #mytime and find a whole new future.

RNN Group (made up of Rotherham College, Dearne Valley College, North Notts College and University Centre Rotherham (UCR)) aims to get local people thinking about returning to education with a degree course at Rotherham’s own University Centre.

The courses have broad appeal – you may not have had time, money or even the qualifications when younger, but there’s plenty of opportunity to make that ‘impossible dream’ a reality.

People from every walk of life are already embracing their future at the University Centre Rotherham, part of RNN Group. We asked four adult returners to share their stories.

If not now, when?

Fern Lynch-Bowers changed her future when her original BA course was downgraded at short notice to an HND.


Instead the 30-year-old swapped to a media make up degree at UCR, rather than uprooting her life to study elsewhere in the country.

She said: “I enrolled onto the course with the attitude of “if not now, then when?” I initially felt I would be too old to do a degree at 26 (I’m now 30!), but whether I did the course or not I would still be getting older so why not now. It’s my time, I thought.”

She now hopes to continue her education this year with a teaching qualification in her chosen subject.

Reaching for the skies

Former cabin crew member Emma White, now 25, found her career at a crossroads when Covid impacted the travel industry.

“I had to decide what I was going to do, as I did not know when the industry would open back up. That is when I decided to come to University Centre Rotherham (UCR) to do my PGCE to become a qualified teacher.”

Using the skills she learned at UCR, and her background in aviation, she is now teaching in that field.

“I also met my now husband through the Group who is an accountancy tutor at UCR so I could not be happier. I am so glad to have been able to have the time consider my options and use #mytime to go back to education and back to studying, which is the best decision I ever made.”

‘I couldn’t be happier’

40-year-old Kelly Birkin left school at 16 with good GCSEs and began an apprenticeship; the birth of her baby changed her life’s direction, and she trained in beauty, and worked in a number of fields over the decades.

“I had never really known what it was I wanted to do when I was younger but as I got older I had more time and experience to be able to seriously think about what I wanted in life.”

With a degree under her belt, Kelly now has found a fabulous new sense of direction.

“Now I am working for RNN group doing the job that I dreamed of when I first started my university journey and working with the same amazing team that supported me through my degree. I am so glad I used my time to go back to completing my education and do a degree. I could not happier.”

Finding his niche

For a teen who never really enjoyed school, or achieved great exam results, no-one is more astonished than 38-year-old Andrew Roth-Savage that he has embarked on a teaching degree.

After a variety of jobs, he worked in a variety of local nurseries, studying NVQs and discovering he loved working with children. When the staff asked him if he had ever considered becoming a teacher, he brushed off the suggestion, but the niggling idea never left.

While a busy life meant he had to wait for the right time to take up study, he’s now on course to fully qualify as a teacher at the age of 39.

“This whole journey has not been the easiest but has it been worth it. I am now undertaking a teacher training apprenticeship at my school which should hopefully be completed by July. 

“I must be a glutton for punishment though, as I’m currently thinking about doing my master’s after the teacher training and then potentially my doctorate!”

For more information on the HE courses, visit the UCR website.  Or discover more stories on the #mytime website here.