Home » News » The Power of Education

The Power of Education

By Nicola Maxfield, HE Academic Skills Advisor, ǿ


I gave a paper about the transformative power of education (HE & FE) on the weekend of 27 and 28 April to a diverse audience and I made someone cry!

She approached me after and said hearing my findings had brought home to her how far she has come through education.

In my capacity as Higher Education Academic Skills Advisor, I have observed a common trend among students entering higher education with low self-confidence and a lack of belief in their own abilities. To address this issue, I took advantage of my annual opportunity to present a conference paper and initiated a research project on the impact of higher education studies on students’ self-confidence.

Each year, I participate in the Conference, “an experimental form of academic community which uses BBC Radio 4 The Archers as a lens through which wider issues can be explored”. This year, my research focused on the theme of “Educating Emma,” examining the potential effects of pursuing a foundation degree on a woman in her late 30s who is facing dissatisfaction with her current life trajectory.

I conducted a study to investigate the educational experiences of students from secondary school through to Level 4 and Level 5 in higher education.

In a nutshell, many students agreed with the statement “My experience in higher education will give me confidence and self-esteem”, contrasting with experiences in secondary education which were not positive.

Several comments provided by students about school highlighted concerns such as the lack of necessary support, the inadequacy of tailored educational programmes to meet their individual needs, instances of bullying or dealing with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), overwhelming academic content particularly in preparation for GCSE examinations, consistent negative feedback leading to disciplinary actions, or being placed in remedial classes.

When asked about their college or sixth form courses, students have a more positive response.

This research demonstrates that what we do in FE and HE is positive, it does make a difference, our attitudes to students does make them feel valued and shows that we believe in their abilities.

This is important for all working in the sector to acknowledge, especially now. Students appreciate the distinction between further education and higher education provision, recognising that it differs considerably from their prior educational experiences in secondary school.


02 May 2024


College news, Higher Education