Widening access to university

Manchester alumnus Paul Shatwell wants to help others enjoy the benefits of further education, regardless of their circumstances. Here, he shares why he chose to include a gift in his will to fund Undergraduate Access Scholarships for talented students from disadvantaged backgrounds.

Paul Shatwell

Paul’s story

Despite a grammar school education and achieving some A-level success, I received no help or encouragement from my school to pursue further education and I went straight into work aged 18.

While working at Ford Motor Company I came to appreciate just how much a degree-level qualification could be worth. Despite reviewing the odd college prospectus however, I did nothing.

It was only once I was married, and with my wife's encouragement, that I applied to study a Baccalaureate in Business Studies. So, at the grand old age of 27, I started my degree course in London. From day one, I loved it – every day I learnt something new.

Reaping the benefits of higher education

As the academic years passed, my confidence and self-esteem grew. Before too long it was my final year – I still vividly recall reading the results board and seeing my name on the list. I was so proud of myself.

The awards ceremony was a very emotional experience. As a child, I was often told I wasn’t good enough and as a consequence, lacked any real self confidence; as the Dean shook my hand and gave me my certificate, I knew I had proved my detractors wrong.

That degree became the catalyst for further study – I went on to successfully complete an MSc in Computation at The University of Manchester. That master’s subsequently underpinned the remainder of my working career.

Widening access to university

Retirement and subsequent life events concentrated my mind on my will.

I believe access to further education should be an inalienable right and not restricted by income or background. That's why I'm really pleased to support Undergraduate Access Scholarships at Manchester. This well-thought out initiative offers mentoring and financial support to recipients who have completed the Manchester Access Programme.

I know from personal experience just how life-changing further education can be. By supporting Undergraduate Access Scholarships I now have the opportunity to offer help to people from disadvantaged backgrounds. They are the courageous ones, showing fortitude and commitment in wanting to improve their own situation – to help them in their journey is the least that I can do.