IT security expert reaps benefits of part-time university study and backs new student support package from Welsh Government

Paul Mahoney, 50, from Merthyr Tydfil, was a shop floor worker at a chrome plating factory when a manager spoke to him about the Open University. Paul, then aged 30 and married with three children, had never considered university.

He says:

“When my manager first suggested university to me I thought ‘ooh, I don’t think so’. I grew up on an estate in Merthyr. My father was a miner and my mother a barmaid. That was what the people I grew up with did. Only certain people went to university when I was in school. It certainly wasn’t like nowadays, where people from all backgrounds go to university.”

But Paul decided to go for it and the first year of his part-time degree saw him study maths and chemistry. A job move from the shop floor into an IT role at the chrome plating factory led Paul to shift the focus of his studies and after six years of part-time study he graduated with a degree in Information Technology.

His Open University degree helped Paul secure a software developer role at NoteMachine, the cash machine network. And further study – a Master’s degree in advanced networking – saw Paul promoted to his current role as Head of Networks Security and Resilience at NoteMachine.

Paul says:

“If you can get on and do something at university then it has the potential to change your life. That was definitely my experience.

Getting that first degree was an incredible sense of achievement and I have seen my career take off and my earnings increase significantly.

If finance is all that’s holding you back from going to university then a scheme like the Welsh Government’s new student support package is invaluable.”

Don't let money get in the way of university

From September 2018, eligible first time undergraduates will get comprehensive support to help fund their day-to-day living costs during term time, regardless of where in the UK they choose to study.