A learning support teacher from Kirkcaldy, who initially joined the University of St Andrews as a part-time student, graduated with her second degree from the University today (Thursday 30th November 2006).
Morna Ramday, one of the early students to graduate from the Evening Degree programme launched in 2000, graduated with a Masters degree (M.Litt) in Women, Writing and Gender. She is the first Evening Degree student at St Andrews to go on to complete a postgraduate Masters degree.
It took Morna just three years to complete her first undergraduate degree part-time, graduating for the first time in 2005 with an M.A General degree with Distinction. Now declaring herself ‘completely hooked’ on lifelong learning, Morna is currently considering undertaking a PhD.
The University’s Co-ordinator of Part-time Degrees, Alison Andrews said, “Morna is living proof that you don’t have to be a school leaver to come to university.”
Morna, 53, from Burntisland, first entered higher education in the seventies when she undertook a degree at Queen Margaret College (now Queen Margaret University College), followed by the Certificate in Secondary Teaching. A move to London and a career teaching Home Economics followed, during which time Morna met her Malaysian husband-to-be Seroop. In 1980 they moved to Malaysia where they stayed for 20 years, during which their first two children, Rhona and Shari were born. Returning briefly to UK in 1988, while her husband undertook his MBA, their son, Jamie was born. On moving back to Scotland in 2002, Morna returned to supply teaching, but she found it was no longer what she wanted to do.
She said, “It was during my time supply teaching at Kirkcaldy High School that the Assistant Principal introduced me to someone who was on the Evening Degree course at St Andrews. We got talking and I realised that there was a possibility for me to return to education after a thirty-year absence. From there on there was no holding me back!”
Inspired by her studious children – particularly eldest daughter Rhona who was already an undergraduate at St Andrews (Shari is a graduate of Edinburgh while Jamie is currently at Heriot Watt) – Morna applied for and was accepted to the part-time degree programme, undertaking classes in IT, Art History, Divinity and English in the evenings, while working full-time as a behaviour support teacher at Glenrothes Education Centre. Developing a particular love for English literature, Morna already knew she wanted to continue with her studies when she graduated in 2005, and began the Masters programme the following academic year. Though mother and daughter didn’t share any classes, Rhona (who graduated in 2004) was a great help in the early months, and since she too was studying English, Morna pointed out that ‘it saved a fortune on books’.
Morna said, “Without blowing my own trumpet I think it is wonderful that I have achieved this after coming back to education so late in life and it is purely thanks to the St Andrews’ Evening Degree that I gained the ability and confidence to complete my Masters degree. I had been out of education for thirty years and it is a daunting experience going back in, but the University and the Department of English in particular could not have been more helpful.”
“I was given support every step of the way, which was so important in building my confidence and I can’t praise the University highly enough. I was also very lucky to have such flexible employers at the time, who gave me time off to attend any day classes,” she said.
As to the future, Morna is already considering applying for a PhD investigating sexual predators in women’s literature, having developed an interest from studying female writers from the Renaissance period to the present day.
The Evening Degree programme is aimed at adults over the age of 21, and a General MA degree can be obtained within three to nine years, depending on prior qualifications and whether the student prefers to study one or two sessions a week. The first cohort of part-time students graduated in 2004, while thirty- five new students joined the programme in September 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 Alison Andrews, Co-ordinator of Part-time Degrees: Continuing Education, Admissions, St Katherine’s West, The Scores KY16 9AX, telephone 01334 462203, firstname.lastname@example.org
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Ref: Lifelong learning 301106.doc
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