University Centre Leeds (UC Leeds) student Liam Barrett, returned to education to pursue his passion for law. In 2019, he was awarded The Oxford University Press Law prize for being an outstanding student. We caught up with him to find out about his journey.
How would you describe your time at University Centre Leeds?
My time so far has been a journey of growth, both academically and personally. When I first arrived, I had been out of education for a few years and was worried about re-entering an academic environment. These worries were soon alleviated, as I was welcomed by UC Leeds and received all the support I needed to smoothly get back into the swing of education.
I was a very shy individual who would rather sit quietly at the back of the class than participate. I have now completely changed, I love to participate and have found confidence and skills that I never knew I possessed. Over my years of study, I have made new friends and made some very special memories.
What made you choose University Centre Leeds?
After working in finance after school for a few years, UC Leeds offered me the chance to return to education and study law. The first course that I completed was an Access to Higher Education qualification, allowing me to move on to degree studies. After completing the Access course, I had the opportunity to go to numerous universities across the country. Despite this, I stayed at UC Leeds as I knew this was the best environment to develop me academically; class groups are more intimate and the tutors know you well.
Furthermore, it’s diverse and exciting, everyone has a completely different past, students and teachers are of all ages and backgrounds; it is a true reflection of the modern world.
What made you choose law? How did your interest in this subject develop?
Before starting my studies at UC Leeds, I had a very general interest in law that stemmed from my love of politics and government; my knowledge of the English legal system was more Hollywood film than the actual reality. However, over my four years of study, I have been constantly reading books, analysing cases and following legal events, both domestic and around the world. I enjoy the subject beyond my academic study. I truly believe I have found a field which I want a career in and maybe even one day contribute something substantive and important.
What role have you been doing as part of the students’ union?
Between 2018/19 I served a term as the students’ union’s Higher Education Officer, being the advocate for HE students within the union and college. As part of my year in office, I was deeply involved in reforming the SU, placing HE students in a much more prominent position; ensuring our voice was taken into account.
I enjoyed working with staff to achieve goals and listening to the advice of students. I would encourage everyone at UC Leeds to take part in the SU in any way they can.
What was it like to be awarded The Oxford University Press Law Prize?
It was completely unexpected winning this prize, however an absolute privilege to receive.
Never would I have imagined that my academic work would translate into high grades that allowed me to win the award; I have all the members of the law department to thank for this achievement.
What are your ambitions for the future?
My next step after completing my degree is to complete my PGCE to become a lecturer, so that I can deliver to students the education and opportunities I received. However, a career in law will always be on the horizon and I have kept one foot in the legal profession by sitting as family court magistrate. After my time at UC Leeds, I genuinely feel there are no limits to what I can achieve and no ambition is too grand.
What would you say to someone who is thinking about returning to education?
To anyone considering a return to education, a new career, a different experience to traditional universities or just entering the next stage of their education, I would strongly advise that you consider studying at UC Leeds. This institution aims to not only deliver a good qualification, but help you to grow personally, support you in your times of need, encourage diverse friendships and open your eyes to the fact that you have something special to offer the world.