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Refugee student praises ‘very supportive’ tutors at Ashley Down Centre as she begins dental school

A Syrian refugee has urged students to get back into education after she secured her place at dentistry school.  The student completed an Access to Higher Education course with City of Bristol College at its Ashley Down Centre, and told prospective students ‘it is never too late’.

Hiba Abdo, aged 28, studied the Science Pathway of the Access Programme in 2016/17 in a bid to continue her journey towards a career as a dentist after her studies were halted in Syria and she moved to the UK.

She explained: “I was studying dentistry in Syria before I moved to England and this course was the best option to meet the entry requirements of dental school. At the start of my studies at the College, I felt it was easy and I was not nervous at all. 

“With my tutors help, I managed to organise myself and keep up with the course. I felt welcomed by the tutors and the teachers were highly-qualified and open-minded. They respected all students and their backgrounds.”

Hiba was enrolled on a 19+ course and was surrounded by like-minded, mature students who had been out of education for a number of years. Hiba praised the support her lecturers had provided.

After completing her Access Course, she went on to study a Biomedical Science Degree at the University of Bristol. In October last year she started studying dentistry at the same university.

Hiba said: “Without the Access course, I would not have been able to join the dental school in Bristol”

The Access course Hiba studied covered a range of topics in chemistry and biology to prepare her for her next steps. Hiba and her class also benefitted from personal tutors who were ‘very supportive’.

She said: “My personal tutor helped me to write my personal statement and to complete my UCAS application. She was my referee and I am sure she must have written me a very good reference.  She also helped me through difficult issues and this improved my performance and progress during the course. My teachers respected the fact that I needed to arrive late as I needed to pray, and thanks to the College, we have dedicated Prayer Rooms on campus. This was very useful and made my life at College easier as I did not have to worry about finding somewhere to pray.”

Hiba now encourages students like herself to enrol to take their place at university and to believe in themselves.

City of Bristol College offers eight different Access to Higher Education courses with a brand-new Medicine Pathway due to be launched in September. All courses are taught at the Ashley Down Centre.

Access courses offer an alternative route to university for students who left school with few or no formal qualification (such as A Levels) to help them progress to degree or foundation degree-level.

The courses you can study at City of Bristol College are:

Ashely Down is also the home of the College’s University Centre and offers a large range of HE provision.

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