Against all odds

Thursday 16 September 2004

A part-time student at the University of St Andrews has been rewarded for her achievements ‘against all odds’ over the last year.

Master of Arts student Wilma Reekie, is the fourth recipient of the Fife Council Provost’s Prize, and has been singled out for her dedication in the 2003-04 session.

The annual prize, formerly the Convener’s Prize, has been awarded to Wilma for the commitment she demonstrated by overcoming a number of practical difficulties in order to continue and progress with her studies.

The part-time Evening Degree initiative, which was launched in 2000, is aimed at adults over the age of 21 who would like to study for a degree. Depending on prior qualifications and whether the student prefers to study one or two sessions a week, a General MA degree can be obtained within 3 to 9 years. Last year saw the first cohort of part-time students graduate.

Wilma (48), a single parent from Pittenweem, entered the University’s part-time degree programme in 2001 with transferred credit from an HND in Communication from Fife College. Over the next 4 years, she was a consistently high achiever in modules in English, History, Psychology, Art History and Divinity. Wilma was all set to graduate this summer when she became seriously ill and had to withdraw from her studies on health grounds. Though currently on a waiting list for a major operation, Wilma hopes to resume studies so that she can finally graduate next year.

Part-time degree co-ordinator Nicky Haxell said:

“As a single parent and reliant on the vagaries of public transport across North-East Fife, Wilma has had to overcome a number of practical difficulties in order to continue and progress with her studies.

“In February she was taken ill, admitted to hospital as an emergency patient and put on the waiting list for a major operation. She was very determined and organised enough to attempt to complete the final module for her degree with the assistance and support of her Philosophy tutor and fellow students, and was aiming to graduate within the year. At Easter, however, she was forced to withdraw on health grounds. Her operation is scheduled for the Autumn of 2004, and she has chosen her final module in order to complete her degree next session. She will graduate, hopefully in good health and spirits, in next year’s ceremony in June 2005.”

Wilma was formally honoured at a reception in St Andrews last night (Thursday 16th September), which was attended by the Provost of Fife, John Simpson, the University’s part-time degree co- ordinator, Nicky Haxell, Vice- Principal (Learning & Teaching) Professor Ron Piper and the Dean of Arts, Professor Christopher Smith.

Wilma said: “This has been an incredibly difficult year for me. Without the support of the University’s staff, my friends and fellow students, I would have given up on pursuing my dream of a St Andrews degree. With their help, I have remained focused, enthusiastic and have been encouraged to keep going against the odds. I am looking forward to the coming semester and the new challenges that will be presented to me in my final, level 3 English module.”

The reception was also attended by over 33 matriculating students, who are beginning their part-time degree studies this year.

Students returning to study after a gap are eased back into the way of things with a specially- designed study skills programme at the start of the course. Various financial arrangements are also in place to help those on low incomes take advantage of this flexible academic programme.

Further information about the degree course can be obtained from Nicky Haxell, Part-time Degree Co- ordinator, Admissions: Continuing Education, 66 North Street, St Andrews KY16 9AH, telephone 01334 462203.


Issued by Beattie Media On behalf of the University of St Andrews Contact Gayle Cook on 01334 467227, mobile 07900 050103, or email [email protected] Ref: Provosts Prize 140904.doc View the latest University news at

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