Level 5 Fashion Retail and Enterprise
Ellie studies Fashion Retail and Enterprise at Newcastle College University Centre. She Stepped Up to a degree after studying at Newcastle College. Find out what she has to say about her time learning with us.
Could you tell us a bit about yourself, your background, etc.?
I started at Newcastle College doing the Level 3 course in Fashion, Business and Retail, and the great experience I had while studying made me want to carry on to degree level at the University Centre. My tutor really pushed me as well, which encouraged me to rise to the challenge of degree level because I knew by then I wanted to continue my studies.
Why did you choose to step up to a degree at Newcastle College University Centre?
When I looked at similar courses at other universities, they didn’t seem as hands-on as the course here, nor did they seem to provide as much support for student career progression than at Newcastle College. By contrast, the Level 4 and 5 courses here looked fantastic, and I felt I could really succeed at them.
What was it about this course that made you want to progress onto a degree at Newcastle College University Centre?
Before starting at degree level, I hadn’t really explored the scope of my interests. By studying my degree course, I gained more experience, found projects I enjoyed, and realised how many opportunities there were to improve my skills. This really helped me to figure out my passions within the fashion sector.
What benefits do you think there are in choosing to stay on to study at Newcastle College University Centre?
To be honest, you get so much support here, both academic and pastoral. The course can be tailored with optional modules so you can explore your interests more than at FE level, and there are so many different resources available at Newcastle College University Centre that have benefitted me and other students so much.
What are the facilities like at the University Centre for your course and as a student?
For my course, we’ve got several studios and workshop rooms which have more resources than at other universities. Thanks to those facilities, I’ve been able to develop my skills and create projects in ways that I wouldn’t have been able to anywhere else. I’d definitely say I’ve had as many, if not more, opportunities here than people who study similar courses at larger universities.
What do you enjoy the most about your degree?
The tutors are really welcoming - they’re always eager and willing to help you reach the next step in your career. If I ever had questions, they were more than willing to help me out. Likewise, my classmates really match my interests, and are equally as willing to help you progress. In my five years at Newcastle College, I’ve only met people who have encouraged my interests.
What inspires you?
From a course aspect, my inspirations are artists and some famous photographers. But in terms of at the University Centre, I would say I’m inspired by other students – especially Newcastle College alumni, since I’ve seen their work and what they’ve progressed to do and it’s quite inspiring. The tutors here are great role models as well, since their industry experience gives them brilliant sector knowledge. Overall, I’d say this has taught me not to put boundaries on my aspirations.
Tell us about how you have worked with industry whilst studying your degree (i.e. talks / live briefs / projects).
I’ve done quite a few collaborative projects, including trend forecasts, photographers or other industry practitioners. At the minute we’re in collaboration with a local brand, and we’ve recently worked with an arts magazine for a competition where the winner was on the front cover. I’ve had so many more opportunities to enter industry than friends I’ve got who went elsewhere.
How do you think learning from industry experienced tutors has benefitted you?
For me, it’s provided a real first-hand insight into my prospective future career. I’ve done two internships to date: one in social media, where I worked with a local bridal business to gain experience in social media management; and another internship with a small dance company where I did administration, social media, but I also worked with kids. The second one had me working with costume design for theatre, so it helped me explore some potential routes for design and styling.
How would you describe the staff at the University Centre?
They’re all really welcoming! Everyone here will help you as best they can, so you can reach your highest career potential and fulfil your dreams.
Have you overcome any challenges either before or whilst studying your degree?
I have dyslexia and ADHD, so that was quite hard coming in. I’ve learned how to manage it over the years, but the staff here have been the best support network I’ve ever had. All my tutors have helped me, including securing an AAP to support my work, so I couldn’t praise them enough. It’s partly thanks to them that I’ve been able to achieve what I have so far.
What kinds of support have you received during your studies?
I’ve had my AAP, which provides me with extra time in exams and a reader and writer if I need them. Newcastle College University Centre has such a well-devised centre for any students facing difficulties, so that if you struggle with anything, there’ll be a team of skilled staff prepared and waiting to help you. It’s been so handy to be honest!
What has been the highlight of your time studying at Newcastle College University Centre?
I’m most proud of the projects I’ve worked on. I do a lot of photography, which I’ve been able to include in my portfolio thanks to the opportunities I’ve been afforded here. I’ve come on leaps and bounds in terms of how much I’ve done since I began my degree here.
What’s Newcastle like as a student city, in your experience?
It’s absolutely a student capital! I’ve got friends all around the country and they’re all jealous of Newcastle’s amazing nightlife. The city is based around its students, not just here but also at Gateshead College or Northumbria University, so there are loads of places to mingle. I’ve never been to a city that is so welcoming of its students.
In what ways do you think your degree at Newcastle College University Centre has prepared you for employment?
The University Centre is very career-oriented for its students, so the support of my tutors has given me an insight into how industry works, as well as life skills for how to progress. I believe I’ve benefitted most from improving my communication skills and knowing how to act professionally in a business-like manner with any employers I’ve come into contact with.
What are your plans after you graduate?
Ideally, I want to pursue a career in costume design or styling for film and theatre. I’ve already managed to develop my own brand as a stylist, and I’ve got creative design skills already thanks to the practicality of this course – it’s really been quite fun! I don’t believe I would have been able to achieve this if I’d taken a less practical degree at another university – I might have felt more limited in terms of my career options otherwise.
What advice would you give to anyone thinking about Steppin’ Up to a degree at Newcastle College University Centre
I’d say look before you leap. You should absolutely research what you want to do before jumping into a university degree, to make sure the course and teaching style is right for your long-term goals. Course tutors were a major help for me personally in making that decision: I discussed the degree course with my tutor before applying, which confirmed for me that I wanted to do continue studying at degree level.
Describe your student experience in three words.
Exciting. Prosperous. Endearing.
What are your top 5 tips for Steppin’ Up at Newcastle College?
Always be open to new possibilities
Accept whatever opportunities are offered to you
Commit yourself – you’ll only get out as much as you put in
Remember to have fun on your course – it’s not all work, work, work
Go for your goals, and never let anyone tell you otherwise.