Husband and wife undergraduates back new student finance support package from Welsh Government
Rebecca Smith, 35, and Tom Smith, 30, who live in Penyffordd, Chester – on the Welsh side of the border – are managing to combine full-time university study at Wrexham Glyndŵr University with family life, as parents to son Tyler, eight, and daughter Brook, six. Their third child is due in June.
Tom had been working as a roofer but when he hurt his back he was forced to consider a career change and the couple thought university might help. Rebecca had also been interested in going to university to pursue a career in accountancy but was prepared to put this on hold and be the breadwinner while Tom studied.
But when the couple attended an open day at Wrexham Glyndŵr University to discuss Tom’s options, a chat with the university’s money team led to the revelation that both of them attending university at the same time was financially possible.
The Smiths are now in the second year of their degrees – Tom in Construction Management and Rebecca in Accounting and Finance.
With student loans, plus the childcare grant which offers extra financial help to students with dependent children, and Tom’s income from working part-time in a managerial role at the firm where he was a roofer, the Smiths are proof that money needn’t be a barrier to university.
“People say ‘oh, you’re in so much debt afterwards’ but it’s not as if you have to pay back half your annual salary – you pay it back a bit at a time depending on your salary. It’s not such a big cost over the lifetime of your career.
I would say to other people thinking they can’t afford to go to university – don’t assume. Really look into it and ask questions. Going to university is our investment in our careers and it’s changed our lives already.”