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Alice Haworth – Doorstep Saints

Alice Haworth, from Dundee, joined the University in 2006 and is currently a Research Coordinator with the School of Medicine.

Alice's job is to manage the research activities of a group in the School, assisting with grant submissions and ethics applications, monitoring budgets and ensuring that staff and students within the group have the equipment they need to carry out their work. Her job sees her liaising with key contacts in Scottish and UK Governments and with collaborators in industry, as well as other universities all over the world.   

Alice started her part-time degree in 2015 and was at home in St Andrews at the time of her virtual conferral.

Alice Haworth standing on her doorstep

What was your experience of higher education before undertaking the part-time degree?  

Although some of my school friends had gone to university, it wasn’t something that interested me, so I have just been involved through working in the University. I started in Registry in 2006, so one of the first jobs I had was helping out at the Winter Graduation Ceremony, and I have probably attended at least two ceremonies a year since, helping out as an usher or doing first aid so that I could see the students I work with graduate.   

What made you decide to do it?

It was becoming clear that most jobs nowadays are looking for a degree, so if I ever wanted a change of job, a degree might come in handy.   

What subjects did you study?  

I have studied: Computer Science, Medieval Scottish History, Modern History, Physics and Astronomy, Biology, Psychology, Geology, Social Anthropology, Strategic Management and Art History.   

What were the challenges you faced studying whilst working? How did you juggle home, work and study life?

There were a lot of late nights finishing essays! Although I live in St Andrews, on Uni nights I tried not to go home as I wouldn’t want to go out again, so I spent the time between finishing work and going to class reading or doing some writing. I also did two daytime modules, so I had to adjust my work hours for two semesters so I could get to the Psychology Lab class on time, and I went to lectures in my lunch break.  

What were the highlights?  

My aim was just to get a pass, so I guess the highlight would be getting a 15 for my first module and ending with a 17 on one of the last ones I did. One of the biggest highlights though was the people I have met which helped me through some of the trickier aspects of doing a degree.   

What’s it like being a ‘lifer’ at the University? What is the community like?

Everyone was very supportive and understood you had other things going on. Also, Joanna Fry (Access Manager: Lifelong and Flexible Learning) is great and will help with anything if she can.

Alice Haworth standing on her doorstep

Did you take part in any traditional student events (for example, Raisin)?

No. St Andrews is not the warmest of places, and I am not a morning person, so getting up before sunrise to run into a cold North Sea did not appeal! Neither did getting covered in shaving foam in the middle of November.   

What’s it like being a ‘non-traditional’ student, and how do you feel your fellow students benefitted from you being in class?  

We weren’t treated any differently, but you all benefit from having a huge variety of backgrounds in a class as that brings different perspectives to discussions.    

Do you have any plans for further study?


What would you say to any colleague thinking about studying part-time at the University? 

Go for it. Don’t pick subjects that you feel most comfortable with, pick the subjects that challenge you or look boring as they turn out to be the most interesting.   

What is your favourite memory (academic or social) of St Andrews?

There are quite a few to choose from. I think one of the best is the look on (former Director of Access) Mike Johnson’s face when he asked at my advising appointment why I wanted to do a science degree and I told him it was because the hood looked better than the MA one.   

What will you miss most about your time as a student at St Andrews?  

I think all the people I met along the way, but especially those who were there from the first class. We have had such a good laugh and will continue to keep in touch. We all supported each other and cheered each other on when we were all going to give up and stop for various reasons, and without that group, classes would have been very boring.   

What advice would you give to new students?

You may not have the same student experience as you are older, but don’t let that stop you from making a friend or two along the way. They will help keep you awake in class when you have had a really long week at work.   

Where have you spent your time during lockdown?  

I have been in St Andrews working for the University at home.   

Have you taken any positives from the situation?  

Not having to leave my house to sit in a chilly lecture room was a positive.   

Do you plan to come back to celebrate in person in St Andrews in 2021? If so, what are you most looking forward to about it?  

Yes, because we made a promise to recreate the picture of Becky, Sam and I. And also my mother would never forgive me for not going to an in-person ceremony.