Mustapha Nafiu Liadi has his sights set on a graduate apprenticeship after support from UniConnect while at college helped him explore his future career options.
Mustapha, 18, has just finished his final year at Canterbury College, where he studied a BTEC Extended Diploma in Engineering.
Mustapha came to the UK from Nigeria in 2020 and joined secondary school during year 11, which he found challenging. He says, “I started mid-year, so I was a bit behind and rushed everything to do GCSEs. I was always interested in engineering but wanted to go to college first to get a general feel for it.”
As part of his level 3 course and thinking about the next steps, he went to talks and took part in careers programmes, organised by the College’s UniConnect project officer, Lisa, who also advised him on the range of higher education opportunities available.
He says, “Lisa has been helpful with thinking about university and what field to pursue. If I need anything, I know I can go to Lisa. She also arranged for me to take part in the University of Kent Succeed programme, which was amazing.”
Succeed is an initiative run by the University of Kent to support young people to make informed choices about their future by exploring what higher education has to offer. It is aimed at young people in Kent and Medway who are in year 12 or the first year of a level 3 course at college. The programme takes place over six months and includes online workshops, campus visits and a three-night residential at the University of Kent.
Although Mustapha initially applied to university, he is now looking at graduate apprenticeships due to finances. He says UniConnect has helped him to find a pathway that works for him.
“If it wasn’t for Lisa, I probably wouldn’t have known about degree apprenticeships. I have been accepted to the University of Kent and Aberdeen, but I’ve decided to look at a degree apprenticeship instead because I was offered international fees and not home fees.”
He added, “I’m mainly looking at software engineering or, if not, design or manufacturing engineering apprenticeships. I had no idea about apprenticeships or the different pathways available until I got support through UniConnect. You get to have a university degree, and you do all the practical aspects, plus you get paid as well.”
Mustapha recently moved to Scotland, so he is applying for graduate apprenticeships in Aberdeen now that he knows what he wants his next step to be.