Skip to main content
Tuesday 30 March 2021

UCLan’s free sports course taster programme could “break down perceived barriers” back into education

Former fitness instructor who embraced education later in life is hoping to inspire others to do the same through free UCLan Return to Study programme

A former fitness instructor turned nutrition lecturer is using her experiences to help others realise it’s never too late to study and change career.

April Melia will soon have Dr in front of her name with her PhD in nutrition education for cardiac rehabilitation at the University of Central Lancashire (UCLan) almost finished. The 56-year-old says it’s hard to believe how far she’s come considering she thought going to university could only ever be a dream until she took the plunge nearly 20 years ago.

Now, after studying for a degree in exercise, health and nutrition at UCLan as a mature student followed by a new career and qualifications that have taken April to PhD level, she is hoping to inspire others in a similar position to take the plunge.

April will teach on UCLan’s new Return to Study Entry Programme, a free, six-week, part-time taster course aimed at people over the age of 21 who can demonstrate the qualities and skills required to work in a sports-related career but may not have existing formal level 3 qualifications.

"I’m really excited about helping others who may be in the same position I was. Not only will participants get a taste of the broad range of sports degrees they could do, they also learn about what it’s like to actually be a student and how to think academically. "

April Melia, nutrition lecturer at UCLan, is one of the tutors on the Return to Study Entry Programme.

April said: “I wish this course had been around when I decided to come to university back in 2003. At the time I was working as a fitness instructor with two young children, so it was a big step but something I really wanted to do.

“This one big decision led me to a new career helping people with pre-existing health conditions back into exercise, as well as into lecturing and research.

“I’m really excited about helping others who may be in the same position I was. Not only will participants get a taste of the broad range of sports degrees they could do, they also learn about what it’s like to actually be a student and how to think academically.

“This is especially important because it makes the process less intimidating and breaks down perceived barriers a person may have about what studying at university is like.”

The sports taster is one of several free Return to Study Entry Programmes UCLan is running; including courses related to business and management, justice, medical sciences and arts and media. Teaching takes place on evenings and Saturday mornings via a mix of online and face-to-face lessons.

Feedback from a recent health and social care Return to Study Entry Programme has been extremely positive, with a staggering 84% of students who enrolled progressing onto full-time UCLan courses.

"It is the best thing I have ever done. I never thought after 30 years out of education I would be able to undertake anything like this. The tutors have been amazing and so supportive."

Student from a recent health and social care Return to Study Entry Programme

One student commented: “I never thought I’d be able to get into university but this course has given me that little boost of confidence and helped me to prove that I am capable of achieving my goal.”

Another said: “It is the best thing I have ever done. I never thought after 30 years out of education I would be able to undertake anything like this. The tutors have been amazing and so supportive.”

The sports Return to Study Entry Programme will begin on Wednesday 7 July and run for six weeks.

It can provide entry onto a range of UCLan’s Foundation Entry (Year 0) or Year One courses delivered at both the Preston and Burnley campuses. This includes nutrition and exercise science, strength and conditioning, sports business management, outdoor adventure leadership, sport and physical education physical activity, health and wellbeing, sports coaching and development, and sports coaching and performance.

"I hope this course shows people that university is far more accessible than they might think and can open doors to careers they never knew existed. If I can do it, anyone can."

April Melia, nutrition lecturer at UCLan, is one of the tutors on the Return to Study Entry Programme.

April added: “I hope this course shows people that university is far more accessible than they might think and can open doors to careers they never knew existed. If I can do it, anyone can.”

Anyone interested in learning more about the Return to Study Entry Programme visit our webpage.

April Melia, nutrition lecturer at UCLan.01 / 01