High-achieving couple have Summer School to thank for success – and love

David Ogle and Cassie Hinkson will both graduate from the University of Dundee with First-Class Honours this week – four years after a course for people without the grades to enter university led them to the city and into each other’s lives.

David (30) and Cassie (25) met after enrolling on the Dundee University Access to Learning (DUAL) Summer School in June 2012. After successfully completing the course they took up places at the University and will collect their top-ranked degrees at Dundee’s annual Graduation ceremony at Caird Hall on Friday, 24th June.

David, who studied Computing Science, and Mathematics graduand Cassie became a couple during their studies and drove each other on to success. Cassie will continue her academic career when she begins a PhD in September while David has already found a job with a software development company. Both believe their achievements would have been impossible without the University’s flagship access course.

David, originally from Sheffield, said, “The Summer School has allowed us both to achieve our goals and gain positions we would not have otherwise been able to, not to mention meet each other. Without the Summer School's help we would both have found it much harder to gain a place on a degree course and may not have been able to study at university level at all.

“I had been in the Air Force since I left school but wanted to do something different. I wanted to do something in computing but everyone told me I had to have a degree and I didn’t have the qualifications for university.

“When I found out about Summer School it seemed the perfect solution. It was a bit of a culture shock to go from the RAF to being back in a classroom and most of the people were a lot younger than me but I soon settled in and everything went well.”

Cassie was born in Surrey but had been living with her mother in Fife for a couple of years before she returned to education. “I did an Open University course and that was what got me thinking about going into higher education but my A-Levels weren’t particularly good so I started looking around for alternatives.

“David is very driven and disciplined so that helped me focus on my studies and everything has gone so well for both of us. I remember sitting in the class in the first week of Summer School and being told about a couple who had met at Summer School and were now married. I was thinking, ‘that seems really cheesy’. Now we’re that cheesy couple!”

David and Cassie will be joined by their families on Friday, with several travelling to Dundee from Sheffield, Surrey and Bath for the event.

The University’s Graduation ceremonies take place from Wednesday 22nd to Friday 24th June in the Caird Hall. Around 3,000 students will receive their degrees and diplomas over the course of the week, one of the highlights of the academic calendar.

A recent report from universities admissions body UCAS highlighted Dundee’s success in widening access to higher education and its work in this area has seen the University heralded by politicians and organisations championing social mobility.

Dundee’s innovative and pioneering approach to widening access promotes the value of holistic, contextual selection and supports in-house preparation for study opportunities. Staff are continuing to develop work in a number of areas, including fair admissions and gender equality.

The DUAL Summer School is one of the University’s most successful initiatives. Since 1993, more than 2,000 students without traditional university entry requirements have benefited from this pathway, which allows potential undergraduates of all ages to qualify, prepare and progress to a degree. The course has a 95% completion rate and those who have progressed to University have gone on to graduate with degree classifications above the Scottish average.

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Grant Hill
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University of Dundee
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Email: g.hill@dundee.ac.uk