Student Stories

Barry Kaiza

Barry Kaiza has been awarded a bursary for outstanding commitment to study on his Access to HE Diploma course. Barry gained an Access to HE Diploma in Computing at City of Westminster College and is now studying Networking and Cyber Security at London Met University.

Since coming to the UK in 2013 as a refugee from Uganda, Barry has struggled to support himself.  Being unemployed and homeless (he stays in a Salvation Army hostel)  has made it doubly hard for him to study. Despite not having a computer – a bit of problem since he was studying computing – Barry has been able to complete the course with the help of the college and friends who gave him access to PCs. His University tutors said:  “He has been able to overcome all this through sheer determination, commitment to his education and support from his friends. Barry is a very good student and worked extremely hard on the activities we set him, demonstrating resourcefulness and an ability to effectively and efficiently problem solve in various contexts.”

“Barry was an exceedingly hard working student who dedicated time and effort into all the work he completed on the Access Computing course last year. He overcame many personal barriers to his education and showed us that even in the hardest of circumstances, if you want to succeed in education, and indeed in life, that you have to push through things that might hold you back to be the best you can be. His award was very well deserved!” Said Juli McArthur, Barry’s former tutor at CWC.

OCN London is a national not-for-profit organisation that creates and awards qualifications.  They are one of the UK’s leading Access Validating Agencies offering Access to HE Diplomas in 45 subject. Their mission is to help create a fairer society where everyone, whatever their educational background, has an opportunity to benefit from learning, realise their potential and fulfil their goals. City of Westminster College work with OCN London on a variety of courses within Access to HE.

Michael Sargent, who worked with OCN London for many years, was a champion of lifelong learning and a great believer in offering opportunities to second-chance learners. The bursaries are awarded in his honour.


Former student graduates with a First Class Honours BSc degree in Geology

After successfully completing the Access to Science course at City of Westminster​ College, Ismail Amerat, moved onto Royal Holloway University of London and graduated with a First Class Honours BSc degree in Geology.

Why did you choose to study the Access to Science course?

I wanted to attend university to complete a degree in Geology. I previously missed my opportunity to complete my A level studies. I didn’t have the necessary grades required to be eligible to get my chosen university, so I researched alternative qualifications and happened to come across the ‘Access to HE programme’, which offers a route for mature students the opportunity to attend university.

What made you choose City of Westminster College?

CWC was one of the few exceptions and I found its website very informative, listing the various modules that the Access programme would be covering and this made my decision on which establishment to enrol at relatively easy.

How would you describe your experience at the College?

We had some truly exceptional teachers that were a credit to the college and always seemed to go the extra mile in helping us to complete our course. CWC’s Access course provided me with what was initially promised… a pathway to university.

What has been your biggest academic achievement?

My biggest achievement at the college was being presented with both the 'School of Science Award' and the 'Principal's Award at the College’s Annual Student Awards ceremony. Since then my biggest achievement to date has been attaining a First Class Honours BSc degree in Geology.

What did you do once you completed your course, and what are you currently doing?

After completing the Access course, I moved onto Royal Holloway University of London (RHUL) to study BSc Geology. I graduated from my BSc degree in summer 2017 with a First Class honours. From October 2017, I plan to continue my studies and commence an MSc in Petroleum Geoscience at Imperial College London.

What are your career aspirations?

I am very passionate about a career in the petroleum industry and after my MSc I hope to get a job in the industry.

What advice would you give to our current students?

Treat your course as you would if you were working in a job role. Work smart, attend all your lectures on time and try not to miss any days. ​​​

Our Access to H.E. Diploma courses are designed for adults, who have previously missed opportunities to gain academic qualifications, so you do not need specific qualifications to get onto a course. Access to H.E. Courses will equip you with high levels of motivation to move on to further study at University level. For more information click on the link below. 


2016-10-13 NYC Work Placement

A former CWC student last week headed to New York City where she has secured a work placement as part of her undergraduate degree. Samantha Storey, 21, who completed the BTEC Extended Diploma in Performing Arts in 2014 is currently enrolled on The Royal Central School of Speech and Drama’s Drama, Applied Theatre and Education course. During the third year, students are required to take up placements and Sam has secured a role working with young homeless people and Broadway actors for the next two months.

“My placement is with an organisation called Covenant House International who house about 300 homeless youths. They give them food, clothes and house them and help them create a plan and filter back into society,” said Sam. “The project I’m working on is called Crossing Bridges, where Broadway stars and the homeless youths are brought together to create a piece of theatre tackling the stigma of being homeless in New York.”

Covenant House New York began more than 40 years ago and today there are 21 Covenant House locations across America, Latin America and Canada, serving more than 56,000 homeless young people every year. It is now the largest privately funded charity in the Americas and seeks to break the cycle of chronic adult homelessness, with comprehensive aftercare including health care, employment training, GED preparation, legal services and drop-in services.

“I always love coming back to CWC and seeing my old tutors because without their help and support I wouldn’t have applied for the course at Central; my tutor Darren was the one who actually told me about it,” said Sam. “I’m really excited to go to New York and work with young people and theatre stars. It will definitely be a new and unique experience and I’m really grateful that I have this opportunity.”