Consultant Physician and University Senior Lecturer, University of Newcastle upon Tyne
I am a Consultant Physician and a university Senior Lecturer and, of course, I am not a “celebrity”. However, having come from a family with no experience or expectation of higher education (the youngest of 5 siblings and the only child to stay at school beyond the age of 16 years), I feel extremely privileged.
I remember the support of teachers who presumed that I would go on to do ‘A’-levels and university study, despite considerable objections from home. I also remember how it felt to then go to university, realising how many clever folks there were, and a sense, at times, that I did not really belong. I could not have done this, without a full student maintenance grant!
Now, while, in my professional life, I advise national bodies on health policy and present the results of my research at international meetings. I have worked all over the World but I can never forget the council house I used to live in nor the good fortune I have received along the way, supported by teachers, family members and peers.
I am not overly romantic about this experience but I do wonder if I have something to share with young people who doubt that they would be able to become doctors, academics or other professionals and, indeed, whether there is any value to higher education, particularly as funding gets tighter.