I’ve painted for years, had sold work and also started on a BA (Hons) Fine Art course at University College Falmouth about 12 years previously. Sadly I wasn’t able to finish the course as a planned move to Cornwall didn’t materialise.

I wasn’t happy with the way I was painting, which was very figurative, and wanted to both push my boundaries and complete the degree I’d started. I was offered a place at HCA where they helpfully allowed me to start at a point that took my credits earned at Falmouth into account and, somewhat to my surprise, found that it was a far better course in every way than that offered for part-time students at Falmouth.

Now, nearing graduation, I can safely say that it has been a rollercoaster ride with so much learned and experienced and my boundaries have been very pushed!

Did you have any anxieties about returning to education?

I was excited to do the course but had insecurities about possibly being the oldest student, particularly studying part-time, and was also concerned about the cost.

One of the real advantages of the course at HCA is that, unlike at Falmouth where the older students (usually the part-timers) were kept in a separate building, the integration between students of all ages is seamless.

There is truly a feeling of mutual support and no doubt that the different age groups can and do benefit and learn from each other. Luckily I was able to get a tuition fee loan from Wales, despite my age, and that took the pressure off financially.

What advice would you offer mature students considering a return to education?

With regards to the course at HCA, there is a wonderfully artistic buzz throughout the college. The student/tutor ratio is fantastic with a very dynamic, experienced and supportive tutor team.

I would advise simply to go for it – it’s never too late to pursue any of the above and you will receive the best support and encouragement from students and tutors alike. It won’t always be easy – it never is when you’re being pushed out of your comfort zone – but that’s ultimately what’s valuable and worthwhile about the experience.