Foy Family Prove There Are No Barriers to Learning

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A family of four from Stoke-on-Trent are embarking on a life changing experience - having all enrolled on degree courses at Staffordshire University.

Family of freshers: Georgina Bould, Josephine, Frank and Katherine Foy at Staffordshire University

I just like the atmosphere and the way the lecturers talk to you

A family of four from Stoke-on-Trent are embarking on a life changing experience - having all enrolled on degree courses at Staffordshire University.

The Foy family - mum, dad and two daughters - from Tunstall have all signed up for degree courses in Staffordshire University's Faculty of Arts Media and Design.

And having survived Freshers week, the family of mature students can't wait to get stuck in to University life and all it has to offer.

Josephine Foy, 61, and Frank Foy, 62, applied to study for degrees in Drama and Performance Arts and Fine Art respectively after redundancy and ill health found them without employment for the first time in their adult lives.

Youngest daughter Katherine, 35, had already been accepted to study at another University after following the example of older sister Georgina Bould and completing an Access course at Stoke-on-Trent College.

However after attending an open day with her Mum and Dad, Katharine decided to switch to Staffordshire University, and both sisters applied through the clearing process for a place on the BA(Hons) English and History degree.

"I just like the atmosphere and the way the lecturers talk to you," said Katherine who is mother to an 18 year old daughter who is also considering University as her next step. "As a mother you get used to managing with little money coming in and the way I see it, it's an investment in the future."

Georgina, 40, who is widowed with three children added: "If you're a parent and you can do it, then it's an ideal time to study. And if we can do it, anyone can!"

Dad Frank, a keen artist and an active member of Burslem Arts Group, said the BA(Hons) Fine Art degree was a means of fulfilling the promise he'd shown as a schoolboy.

He said: "At 15 I won a scholarship at Stoke-on-Trent College of Art but my father told me to get a job because that was the way it was in those days and I was the eldest of five children."

Aged 18 Frank joined the army where he served for 20 years and it was when he was returning to barracks from his first leave that he met wife Josephine on a train.

Josephine has always worked in accounts and office jobs until she was made redundant in November last year. Although she landed another job almost immediately, she didn't enjoy it and so decided to pursue her own dream - of drama and performance arts.

A keen member of the local drama group, Josephine said she got speaking to people already studying on the BA (Hons) Drama and Performance Arts course.

"It sounded really exciting I came to an open day and absolutely decided that's what I wanted to do - and what I'd have liked to have spent my whole life doing. I'm very proud of all of us and that we're all continuing to be educated," said Josephine.

"We've always encouraged the children and grandchildren to better themselves and to give them a positive role model. Ultimately, I'd like to take what I learn into underprivileged areas and encourage people to have more confidence in themselves and their abilities."

Frank added: "It feels great to be here. I was a bit worried about how I'd fit in but I've felt quite at home and age doesn't appear to be a barrier. It's something I've always wanted to do and I see it as a way of getting into curating."

A spokeswoman for Staffordshire University said: "We are used to family members graduating in the same year but four enrolments from one family to the same faculty takes some beating. The Foy family are setting a fantastic example to mature students everywhere and we look forward to celebrating their graduation with them in 2012."

For more information, visit http://www.staffs.ac.uk.

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