You're not the only one. Read more about people’s ambitions and hopes around higher education.

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You're not the only one. Read more about people’s ambitions and hopes around higher education.

A recent YouGov study into adult ambitions around higher education revealed that one of the key factors in driving interest in studying amongst mid-life learners is fear of career stagnation.

For 47 year old Stuart Fleming from Surrey, this was certainly the case.

I left school at 15 with a handful of basic CSEs. It wasn’t that I didn’t like school, I just wanted to get a job and earn my own way in life. My father was in the army and I think that instilled a strong work ethic in me – I appreciated that you had to work hard to get ahead and that’s exactly what I did

It’s an attitude that served him well and, following roles with Royal Mail, TNT and Nestle, Stuart, at the age of 42, found himself working as a Regional General Manager (South) for LTT Vending, the largest independent vending company in the UK.

“I had bags of experience and a great job but also a sense of real frustration when I looked at my future prospects. At any networking events I was attending, everyone at my level and above had a degree or masters. I didn’t feel inferior or any less good at my job, I just came to realise that to progress in the way I wanted to, additional qualifications weren’t just preferable – they were essential. I was no longer happy being held back by something I didn’t have and I knew I had to do something.”

Stuart isn’t alone in coming to this conclusion. The same YouGov study also revealed that only a third of UK adults are happy in the current job role and with the qualifications they hold.

With a full time job and two small children, Caitlin and Conner, taking time out to attend university was not an option, so Stuart decided to study for an MBA. It was a decision his employer supported so much that they agreed to fund his studies in full. For more student stories visit the testimonials section of our website.

Four years later, Stuart has his MBA and a new job title – Director of Operations.

I think my graduation ceremony was one of the proudest moments of my life. Deciding to become a mid-life learner is one of the best decisions I’ve ever made and one which has already seen me advance in my career. There is no doubt in my mind that I would not have progressed to this next level without my MBA.

With a new title and pay rise, Stuart’s career has already benefitted from his MBA but the 47 year old businessman believes his studies have given him much more besides.

“It takes real commitment”, says Stuart, “but there are so many experiences that are incredible rewarding.”

On one occasion I was Skyping with a fellow student in the States, the CEO of a large company. We were discussing topics on the course – sharing our thoughts – and I just remember thinking ‘wow, this is amazing, I’ve got classmates all over the globe’. I hadn’t studied for over 25 years and now I was Skyping, attending webinars, taking part in student forums. For me, this way of learning gelled so well with modern ways of working. It was great.

Having been bitten by the study bug Stuart is now contemplating his future study plans.

Learning at this stage in my life has ultimately been one of the most rewarding things I’ve ever done and I really think that a PHD might be on the cards. Mind you, I think I might have a little break first and take some time to enjoy and appreciate my achievements.

For more student stories visit the testimonials section of our website.

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