Avinash Prakash Sharma is a BSU member working as a Customer Services Officer at The Co-operative Bank in Kingston branch. He has been accessing learning through the Youlearn ULF Project at BSU for a number of years.
Recently he signed up to a course at Birkbeck College in central London. Birkbeck has been working with unions for some time now after unionlearn negotiated a ten percent discount for union members studying higher level courses at the college.
Avinash is currently pursuing a part-time Masters Degree in Finance. Before doing this he achieved a Graduate Diploma in Finance. Both these courses attracted the union members’ discount. He chose these particular courses for career progression, and because he has always been good at maths.
When asked if the union discount made a difference to his decision to go back to learning Avinash was very positive. He said:
Birkbeck is one of the very few universities where one can pursue part-time studies in the evening and is also a prestigious institution to study in. I used my 10 % union discount towards the fees."
Higher Education courses are not cheap, and the union members’ offer made a real difference to his decision to study, and helped pay off his loan much quicker. The BSU member found the experience of studying at Birkbeck, which specialises in evening classes aimed at working people, very positive - but it wasn’t without challenges and needed a level of commitment.
It's been very challenging juggling personal life with full time work and study. But overall it’s been a really good learning experience.
You need to have very strong will power in order to persevere and finish the course. I need to work from 9 till 5, rush to university to attend classes from 6 till 9 and then go home and do the other daily activities. This happens three times a week.
It is a very taxing regime for the mind and body. The main thing that keeps me going is the hope of a better future once I finish the course."
Neil Seepujak, Youlearn Project Worker at BSU added:
Avinash is probably the most successful learner we have supported over the last few years. He has gone on to more and more advanced study and rightly taken advantage of what’s available to him as a union member. We hope his success inspires more members to learn and to realise their potential."
This isn’t the end of learning for Avinash, he is aiming to finish his Masters over the next two years and would then be looking to move to a Finance role.
A number of universities and colleges that work with unionlearn offer discounts for union members. For more information go to: https://www.unionlearn.org.uk/higher-education-discounts-trade-union-members