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Returning to education

After initially leaving school at 16, Chris then undertook a Foundation degree in Science, Maths and Engineering before securing a place on Northumbria’s BSc Biology course via Clearing.

Having just completed his first year he is now considering a career as a biology teacher and hopes to stay at Northumbria to carry out his postgraduate certificate in education.


Clearing | Chris' Experience Film from Northumbria University on Vimeo.

Chris' Story

Sometimes it can be hard to know which direction to go in and whether to stay at school or leave and get a job. Often the prospect of having some financial security can be the deciding factor.

For 23-year-old Chris Butler, that’s exactly what happened and getting a job seemed like a good starting point at 16.

It was only after Chris watched his friends complete their A levels and apply to university that he wished he’d done the same.

He said: “I probably took the wrong path if I’m completely honest. I had a desire to become a paramedic where I would be able to help others, but it felt like a pipedream.”

After a number of different jobs, an NVQ in Health and Social Care and applications for various university courses around the country, Chris felt like he was constantly having to justify to people why he wanted to return to education.

He finally embarked on a year-long foundation degree in Science, Maths and Engineering at Wolverhampton University.

He said: “It was hard, but I passed. I was then able to apply to Northumbria University, Newcastle via the clearing and confirmation process for a place on the BSc Biology course. Applying to Northumbria was more cost-effective for me. It was a place I knew was friendly and also somewhere I knew had excellent transport links across the region and beyond. It was also close to home for me on a personal note.”

Chris was hopeful with his experience and qualifications, he would secure a place on the course at Northumbria.

“The actual process of applying through clearing was simple and straightforward. The UCAS search tool was a great aide in this as it narrowed down courses by providers, without having to manually filter everything. This meant I could spend as little time searching and more time researching.

“Northumbria University’s website is excellent and it’s really easy to navigate your way around. I just hoped I’d get a place. It was a nervous time.

He added: “When I was told I’d got a place my immediate reaction was one of shock. I then felt relieved but I was still a little daunted about what was to come."

Teaching staff at Northumbria were quick to allay Chris’s fears and doubts about his future.

“There’s always a stand-out teacher wherever you go. For me, I found mine at Northumbria. This particular member of staff was friendly, hugely supportive and helped guide me when I realise that I wanted to change direction in my career.

“I now know I want to be a biology teacher and I hope to be able to do my post-grad at Northumbria. I’ve got a few more years ahead of me in order to do it, but I’ve got good support at Northumbria. It’s a place like no other. The lecturers have personality, passion and are approachable.

“It’s also brilliant because they come from all over the globe to teach at Northumbria.”

Chris, who lives in private student accommodation in the city, really rates the range of facilities on offer at Northumbria and also the different societies which are on offer for students.

He added: “Northumbria has a great student community and its Students’ Union offers so much. There’s always something to do. You can find it all on the website too. It’s a wealth of information and all the societies and events you can join in with are easily found on there. The library is also a really good place to study and it’s open 24/7 during term time.”

With so much on offer for students in the city both in and out of university, Chris would happily recommend attending Northumbria University to other people.



Northumbria University has a limited number of places available for high quality students through Clearing this summer. For more information, visit or call the Clearing Hotline on 0800 085 1085.


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