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Kathryn Melvin

Encouraging other technicians to participate in higher education courses.

I joined Durham University Geography Department in 2006 as a trainee having previously worked at the Inland Revenue as a civil servant processing working tax credits to obtain a little extra money while attending college to study forensic science. I saw an advertisement in the local paper for the apprentices and was attracted by the prospect of a science-based career at Durham University. After a successful application, I began a two-year training program to obtain an NVQ in applied science working at the University four days a week combined with workplace assessment and attending a training centre one day a week.

kathryn melvin of technicians' commitment using a computer

Following successful completion of this first course, I obtained a full-time post within the Geography Department’s technical team and decided to further my education by going on to study for a foundation degree in Analytical Chemistry. This was supported by both the Department and the University training department with each paying a third towards the cost. The advantage of studying in this way meant that I could gain valuable hands-on experience of using cutting edge analytical equipment while being able to earn a wage. I then completed my BSc in Analytical Chemistry alongside gaining a valuable degree-level education.


As part of my role within the laboratories I was involved in the analysis of samples for some of the Department's leading academic staff which inspired me to advance my education further by going on to pursue a Master’s degree in Geography this was supported by the Department and supervised by three of the academic staff which I work alongside. This is also supported by the Department providing me with one day a week to study alongside financial assistance.

I hope this case study encourages other technicians to participate in higher education courses that are available and end up with a Master’s degree like myself.