Postgraduate life at Harper Adams as a mature student

RETURNING to higher education as a mature student can be a daunting experience, but postgraduate student Ann Kerry found she was in good company when she began studying at Shropshire’s Harper Adams University.

The mother-of-two had always dreamt of undertaking a Masters course, but it was not until more recently that she decided the time was right.

After changing her job and reducing her hours, the 62-year-old signed up as a part-time student to study a postgraduate food course over two years.

Ann, who qualified as a teacher more than 40 years ago after undertaking a PGCE in Home Economics, said: “I am a qualified teacher but I have not taught for 14 to 15 years. I mostly do teacher training now through education charitable trusts.

“I’m working part-time. I actually changed my employment to embark on this postgraduate course because this is something I have wanted to do for a long time.

“I have not got a Masters degree and really when you are doing teacher training you need to make sure you have that higher level of qualification to give credence to what you are doing.”

Working part-time allowed Ann, who lives near Leek, in Staffordshire, to strike the right

study-work-life balance, and she said deciding to continue her education at Harper Adams was an obvious choice for her.

“I know that Harper Adams has a very good reputation. The majority of the work it does revolves around food in some way. It has got, I have learnt even more since I have been here, a really nice friendly, family atmosphere,” she added.

“I didn’t want at this stage to be going to such a big university where actually you are just a number and not a person.

“Coming here as a postgraduate and as a slightly older student, I thought I might find it quite daunting because obviously the majority of students here are undergraduates so I thought ‘Do I really want to be around 18 year olds?’ because that is the age of people I was teaching.

“But in actual fact I have found I have settled in absolutely fine. I haven’t found it a problem and I can relate perfectly well to people of all ages anyway. Plus the people that are on the postgraduate courses are very varied - very varied in age, very varied in culture, and the interesting thing and enjoyable thing about that is actually mixing with people from all over the world and talking to them and finding out their different interests and aspirations.”

Ann said postgraduate food related courses at Harper Adams provided students with a wide range of modules focusing on core subjects relevant to the food industry.

“I have enjoyed the different modules I have covered, and although some of them probably would not have been before embarking on the course subjects that I would have considered actually following in isolation, as part and parcel of the whole course have been really enjoyable and I have learnt a lot about things I didn’t expect to learn about,” she added.

“Some of the modules that I was particularly interested in were things like food safety and food production management. Other subjects that I had an interest in, but I was expecting to find maybe slightly difficult, were things like finance, but actually I really did enjoy that and found it very useful. For those people thinking of starting up a business, you would find that very useful.”

Harper Adams is now offering a postgraduate course in Food Industry Management. The course aims to produce and develop well-trained managers who are working in, or wish to follow, careers in the food industry.

For more information visit


Sarah Swinnerton
Harper Adams University Press Office
Newport, Shropshire
01952 815291

Harper Adams University is the UK's leading specialist provider of higher education for the rural and land-based industries. Our mission is to deliver higher education and research for the delivery of a sustainable food chain and rural economy. To see how Harper Adams can help you, visit 


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Harper Adams University College is the UK’s leading provider of specialist higher education and research for the food chain, rural and land-based industries. Undergraduate, postgraduate and PHD subjects cover every aspect of food production, from agricultural engineering to food marketing, land management and animal health and welfare. For more information visit