2019 Access to HE Michael Sargent Bursary Awards

We are delighted to announce the winners and runners up of our annual Michael Sargent Bursary Awards. The awards were presented at our ‘Celebrating Inclusion and Achievement in Access to HE’ event on 26th November 2019 in support of World Access to Higher Education Day.

Anna Bryant

Winner: Outstanding Academic Achievement

Anna achieved the Access to HE Diploma (Humanities and Social Science) at Kingston College and is now studying for a degree in Law and Politics at Queen Mary’s University of London.

Until the age of 15, Anna had no educational issues and was successful at school, achieving good grades in all subjects. This changed when she contracted an initially unidentifiable illness which left Anna with a major neurocognitive disorder. After three years of misdiagnosis and no progress, Anna was eventually diagnosed with encephalitis.


Such was Anna’s determination to succeed, she moved to the UK to live away from her family in Germany, because the German education system could not compensate for her missed years in education. 

At the beginning, Anna was unsure of how successful she would be because she had to relearn how to study, a process that cannot be underestimated and which involved creative use of assistive technologies to facilitate reading and research.

From the outset, Anna proved to be an exemplary student, assiduous in her preparation and execution of academic work, highly supportive of others and unfailingly modest and unassuming about her undoubtedly outstanding academic ability. She achieved all assignments at Distinction, demonstrating an incisive and critical academic approach in all academic subjects through her meticulous planning, research and texturing of consistently pertinent and insightful arguments. The work submitted is entirely representative of Anna’s academic ability and has resulted in her gaining a place at London’s prestigious Queen Mary’s University to study Law and Politics.

In the words of Anna’s tutor Sue Brahams, “We think Anna is most deserving of this award in recognition of her ‘outstanding academic achievement’ in circumstances that would have defeated a less courageous and less determined individual”.

Abdikhaliq Ahmed

Runner up: Outstanding Academic Achievement

Abdikhaliq achieved the Access to HE Diploma (Humanities and Social Science) at Richmond upon Thames College and is now studying for a degree in Politics and International Relations at Queen Mary’s University of London. 


Abdi adapted immediately to the very intensive and demanding programme. He was ambitious and keen to engage in discussion with peers and lecturers about topics of interest in Politics and  International Relations and consistently made links between his understanding of this and individual subject disciplines.

Across a variety of units Abdi produced interesting and engaging analysis and a serious commitment to improving in line with his feedback. In the year Abdi studied his Access course, he grew academically, and as a mature student, to balance the rigours of study and outside commitments. His punctuality and attendance were  excellent highlighting his ambition and dedication to succeed.

Abdi’s work demonstrated fluent writing, the ability to cite and reference, as well as being able to organise his ideas on paper. Abdi always arrived prepared for lessons and developed an excellent understanding of key theories and methodological approaches.

In the words of Abdi’s tutors Helen Upfield and Lucy Corr, He was a thoughtful and self-reflective learner, popular with his peers for his supportive but challenging presence in classes”.

Evie Stanway 

Winner: Outstanding Commitment to Study

Evie achieved the Access to HE Diploma (Health and Human Sciences) at CU Scarborough and has continued her studies at the college where she is now studying for a degree in Public Health. 

Evie has rare and incurable connective tissue disorder which makes her very unwell. As a result, she had to go to hospital every morning before attending college but still made it into lessons despite how difficult this could be some days. Evie was quite unwell before starting the course but managed to overcome this to begin her studies.


Due to her condition, she had bouts of serious illness during her time on the course which at times meant she had to miss some lessons and was not able to hand in work on time but despite this she never gave up or stopped. Her tutor Melissa McLaughlin said “She is truly one of the most passionate individuals when it comes to education and she has shown incredible determination throughout her studies. The challenges she faces every day are beyond what many of us can even imagine despite this she comes in works as hard as she can, contributes to all class sessions and has never stopped working even if she has fallen behind due to a lengthy hospital stay”.

Evie produced a very good standard of work and showed focus and determination to succeed. She meticulously made notes and absorbed as much as she could but often her illness would reduce the time she had to complete assignments. However this did not stop her, she battled hard every step of the way to successfully complete the Access course and she is now studying at CU Scarborough on a degree in Public Health which she is managing well so far and is demonstrating the same commitment and drive in her studies.

Throughout her time on the course she was always a valued part of the student group and showed excellent academic insight especially in discussions. In the words of Evie’s tutor, “She has come a long way and developed so much throughout her time on the course. She is a very determined student and an extremely kind person who has supported others in her Access group despite her own struggles. I could not nominate a more dedicated individual and her drive to continue to pursue higher education is incredible”.

Eddie Thorne

Runner up:  Outstanding Commitment to Study 

Eddie struggled with anxiety and depression from a young age and although his early education was  ‘fairly successful’,  when he began his ‘A’ levels his condition worsened to the point where he developed crippling social anxiety. 

=He withdrew, not just from education but social life in general. He was effectively housebound for the next three years and had great difficulty in functioning independently. Through a combination of intensive therapy and immense determination, Eddie decided that he must return to education to fulfil his early promise.

From the very first day of the course, Eddie has shown enthusiasm, curiosity and an exemplary work ethic. His determination to succeed was clear from the very beginning; every piece of work was meticulously planned and prepared well in advance. He frequently sought advice and feedback so that his work could be the best that it could be. His bravery and stamina won him the admiration and respect of his classmates and all of his teachers. It was with immense pride that we heard that he had been accepted by SOAS to study politics, and Eddie was, naturally, overjoyed. In the words of Eddie’s tutor Sue Brahams “To have transformed himself from a dependent, vulnerable and housebound young man into a bold, socially adept, popular and successful university student in the space of a year is an exceptional act of willpower and we believe that he deserves recognition for his remarkable achievements during his time on the course”.

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