Nigel Smith (LLB 2013)

I left school at 15 with a minimum of qualifications. Formal education wasn’t ‘my thing’ and it was always expected that I would follow a non-vocational apprenticeship, which I did in mechanical engineering. Thirty years on, I found myself in a senior managerial position at an industrial conglomerate, negotiating and signing contracts in excess of £5M in the oil and gas sector. Both my children were by then pretty much grown, and so for the first time in decades I could focus on how I was going to spend my free time.

It was my employer who first spoke to me about returning to education. It was pointed out that, without a degree, I’d probably reached a ceiling in my career and that, in signing contracts on the company’s behalf with significant potential liabilities, it might be useful if I actually understood what they meant!

A law degree by part-time study was the only option as I had to continue the day job. I looked nationally for a programme because my job meant I could study anywhere in the UK. The course at the University of Buckingham fitted the bill perfectly, with one seminar a week combined with home study that I could do whilst travelling. It appealed to me by being both exam and assignment based, giving me a chance to succeed across the whole year as job demands ebbed and flowed.

There are three things I want to say about the part-time LLB at the University of Buckingham. First, the teaching material and modules, written by the staff, are invaluable; the best, most pertinent and concise learning material I have ever come across. Secondly, the staff will see you through! My personal and working life changed significantly over the four year course and there were some tough times, but the lecturers made sure I made it through to the next round, however much I questioned my own resolve!  And last but not least, the camaraderie that is encouraged and develops between the students is a huge plus point. I have made some lifelong friends.

I’m now the only member of my family with a degree, something I never thought as a teenager I’d want or get!  But I’m exceptionally proud that I did it, and what I learnt I use every day in my job. I can’t recommend the part-time LLB at the University of Buckingham enough.”