Ryan Davies, who is originally from Taffs Well, studied the Foundation Degree in Sports Science, Exercise and Health at The College, Merthyr Tydfil before progressing to the final year of BSc (Hons) Sport and Exercise Science at USW.
Why did you decide to pursue sport and health in an academic setting?
I'm a personal trainer with a keen interest in health and fitness in treating disease and disability. What's more, for the last six years I have spent four months of every year in Maryland, USA working at a Summer Sports Camp for young people with disabilities. I decided to return to education after a few years working as a personal trainer because I want to go as far as possible in this field, and a degree will only help me in that ambition.
Was there a particular reason for choosing to study at The College first?
Back in 2010 I secured a place at another University through Clearing and began studying Architecture but the course wasn’t really for me. I think that after taking a couple of years away from study, I worked out what I really wanted to do and where my passions lay.
Initially, I didn’t have the UCAS points for the courses I wanted to do, until I discovered the alternative route through the college, and they took my industry experience in to account. The college timetabling also meant I could work part-time, and there was still the option to top-up to the full degree in the last year, so I’d be just as qualified as if I went straight to university.
Had you always planned to top-up to the full degree after the Foundation degree?
Yes. Well… mostly! I’m hoping, one day, to emigrate to the USA permanently. I have researched whether that would be possible with just the Foundation Degree as it is a Higher Education qualification in itself. But I did need a minimum of a full degree qualification which was fine as I’d always intended to continue! I’m keen to learn as much as I can.
How did you find the step up in the top-up year?
It wasn’t as steep as I’d anticipated. Of course the work is a little more intense, because it’s a level up from year two but I actually didn’t feel any different from those students who had been there since year one. One of the tutors who taught on my course at the college also teaches me on the top-up so I had a level of familiarity. All of the lecturers are hugely supportive too. The BSc Sports and Exercise Science is taught at the Glyntaff Campus, which has fantastic facilities and is only five minutes away from the much larger Treforest site, where I can use all of the services and facilities there too. It really is the best of both worlds. I got a second chance, and a chance to do it my way too! Oh and I was able to apply for the £500 Progression Bursary so that was a nice surprise!
How did you find the bursary application process?
Really Straightforward! I first heard about it at an Open Day at The College. When I heard that a bursary was available to partner college students topping up at a USW campus I thought why not? After I submitted my course application, I just followed the link from an email that was sent by the University and completed the form. As long as you fill it in before the deadlines, it’s really straightforward. You submit the application and then once it's processed you get an email notification indicating if it’s been successful which mine has. The bursary is also non-means tested so I didn’t have to give any household income details.
What are you thinking you’ll do with the bursary?
I decided to relocate to Treforest this year to make getting to classes easier, so I may put it aside for rent. I’m also considering setting up a start-up business with support from the Enterprise Department here at USW. That £500 could help cover set-up fees and help get it off the ground so watch this space!
What comes next?
Too many ideas! I’ve considered going on to do my PGCE so that I can go on to teach, but I’ve also considered doing a Masters, then maybe even a PhD? Who knows, but once I have my BSc, anything is possible!