Michael Sargent Bursary Awards 2021

The Bursary Award was established in memory of Michael Sargent who played a pivotal role in the development of OCNs and was also one of the longest serving OCN London moderators. Michael’s contributions to our work over the years were considerable and varied. He was a Trustee on our Board, a member of our Quality Committee, attended countless OCN London validation panels over a 25-year period and was an External Moderator for 15 years for programmes ranging from Basic Skills to Access to HE.  

The Bursary Award celebrates the achievements of Access to HE learners in two categories - Outstanding Academic Achievement and Outstanding Commitment to Study. Learners have faced considerable challenges due to the COVID-19 pandemic and more than ever, we would like to celebrate their achievements.  

The judging process has taken place and we are delighted to announce the winners and runners up of the Michael Sargent Bursary Award for 2020-21 are as follows:

Outstanding Academic Achievement 

Winner: James Marlow (Access to HE Diploma (Engineering) at The College of Haringey, Enfield and North East London)

James impressed his tutors from the beginning with his dedication and drive. His tutor said “James has performed outstandingly throughout this academic year and has successfully achieved 45 Credits at Distinction in Access to HE Diploma in Engineering. James is a very dedicated, obedient, well-organised, and hard-working student with excellent attendance and punctuality throughout the year”. 

James’ tutor when on to say “James has demonstrated excellent skills in all mathematical, physics and engineering modules taught this year. The evidence produced in take-home assignments is consistently of very high quality and the general presentation of work was very logical and well-organised”. 

Not only was James dedicated to his learning, but he also supported others in his role as the class representative for the Access group. His tutor puts this down to his excellent communication skills and friendliness among the group.

James is now studying BSc Computer Science at King's College London. 


Before studying the access course, I was working as a software developer. While I always knew I wanted to study at university, I had little in the way of formal qualifications. The access course helped me realise this goal. In just under a year, I not only learnt key theory in mathematics and physics, but also vital academic skills such as referencing, essay and report writing, which really gave me a strong foundation when I started my degree.

The access course provides an excellent route into academia, and I would highly recommend it to anyone who wants to move into higher education.

- James Marlow 

Runner up: Somer Jones (Access to HE Diploma (Theatre Arts) at National Youth Theatre)

Somer’s tutors were impressed by the continuous high standards she set throughout the course. They said “this learner has been remarkable throughout the duration of this course. They have received distinction grades in all their graded units and have gone above and beyond in their commitment to this course”. They went on to say “The assessment evidence for ‘History of Theatre Workbook’ demonstrates the high level of distinction work this learner produced throughout the course. The depth of research and analysis, particularly in the section titled ‘Identify the historical conditions which were influencing theatre at this time and explain how they contributed to the development of this style, genre or practice’, is exceptional.” 

Somer was also incredibly generous with other learners on the course, always willing to share knowledge and skills, and support those who were working at a lower level. So much so she was nominated by the group for the Jack Petchey Leadership Awards and to become a Student Representative.  

Somer is now studying BA Drama at the University of Exeter. 

Outstanding Commitment to Study 

Winner: Abigail Egbe (Access to HE Diploma (Nursing) at Barking and Dagenham College)

Abigail showed her determination to succeed from the start of the course. Her tutor said “Abigail was an excellent learner achieving distinctions for her work.  Right from the commencement of the course she proved to be a resilient, hardworking, and extremely motivated learner. Within a month of the course starting, we went into the first lockdown.  This event did not in any way phase Abigail, who quickly adapted to online learning.  She interacted well with other learners, being a supportive member to others who struggled with their academic work and learning online.”

Abigail had a very tough experience starting life in this country, which as her tutors said would overwhelm most people but not Abigail, she has turned this into a positive one and is determined to use this to help others and support her community.

As well as committing to her studies, Abigail also volunteered on the children`s ward at Queens hospital where she organizes arts, crafts and other activities as well as chatting and playing with children and supporting them through their illnesses and conditions. She also continued to work as a Health Care Assistant caring for adults with learning disabilities, autism and severe epilepsy.

Abigail is now studying BSC Children`s nursing at City University in London.


Working with children and providing them with the best quality of care has always been my passion however, I was not quite sure how I would achieve this as I had missed a lot of years in education. The Access to HE Diploma (Nursing) was an opportunity that gave me a second chance and hope in life, and a stepping stone towards achieving the goal I had envision for myself. I feel having chances and hope is important, especially as an adult learner because sometimes when certain life events occur, it can put our life on hold academically. As a result, it makes us feel we have missed our chances. So, being on the Access course enabled me to catch up on the education that I had missed out on. This helped prepare and equip me with the necessary skills and confidence I needed to take further steps in the direction of my goal of being a child nurse. I am grateful to have been taught and guided by lecturers who were very encouraging and supportive. 

- Abigail Egbe 

Runner up: Nicola Halford (Access to HE Diploma (Social Science) at CU Scarborough)

Nicola’s tutors were impressed with her determination and perseverance throughout the course. Nicola suffered from illness for a number of years before starting the Access course which had knocked her confidence but as her tutor said, “it became clear from her participation in the classroom that she was extremely capable and knowledgeable”.

Despite struggling with her illness, Nicola did not miss a single class the whole year even when she felt too ill to attend, she would make sure she was there and engaging with the class. Her tutor said “It was wonderful to see her grow, not only in confidence but in knowledge and self-belief.  Her determination to finish the course was supreme. Once she attained her first distinction she completely changed as a person and grew in confidence”. 

Her tutors went on to say “The Access course has developed Nicola’s skills in writing in an academic manner; referencing; working as a member of a team; supporting other students; developing her concentration; giving her self-confidence; giving her self-efficacy. She has grown and changed during the Access course, and it has been a delight to have been part of this”. 

Nicola is now studying Social Work at Coventry University. 

Are you feeling inspired? Do you think an Access to HE course could be for you? 

  • The Access to HE Diploma is designed for adults who have been out of education for a while and want to apply for university. 
  • It is well established and widely accepted by universities. 
  • OCN London has over 40 Diploma titles including subjects such as Nursing, Midwifery, Social Work, Business Studies, Design, Fashion Studies, Engineering and Science.  
  • Access to HE courses are closely linked to the intended progression routes and include study skills units which help prepare learners for studying in higher education.

Did you know that the Access to HE Diploma is the only qualification that offers the loan waiver?

  • If you complete your Access to HE course and then go onto complete a HE course, the Advanced Learner Loan for your Access course will be written off, meaning that your Access course is free!  

Find out more by visiting our Access to HE Learner page -  https://www.ocnlondon.org.uk/Access-to-HE/Access-Learners

Click here for more inspirational learner stories, including how one learner went from studying an Access to HE course to a gaining master’s degree in Global Health Policy! 

 

 





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