Evesham lad takes alternate route to university - graduates debt free and top of the class
While thousands of school leavers prepare for their first term at university and face a lifetime of student debt, Harry Williams has graduated debt free by choosing an employer-sponsored degree.
Harry, who lives in Evesham, graduated this week with a first class honours degree in Food Manufacture, Quality Assurance and Technical Management. Harry was sponsored by his employer - local food and drink research company Campden BRI - who funded two-thirds of his university fees.
His excellent performance also landed him two awards. The Lindum Group Award was for best overall performance on the BSc Hons in Food Manufacture, while the Tulip Award was in recognition of 'an exemplar work-based project' as part of the degree.
Harry studied part time for his degree over five years via the National Centre for Food Manufacturing at the University of Lincoln, while juggling a full-time job at Campden BRI and refereeing rugby matches for the Gloucester and District Referees Society.
Harry commented on his achievement, "Sometimes you have to be a bit 'unconventional'. If you're prepared to get stuck in and put your hand up, opportunities will present themselves - take them and you might just surprise yourself. I had no intention of going to university when I left school at 18, I just wanted to work and gain some experience. I have been amazed at the many opportunities I've been given since joining Campden BRI nearly seven years ago. I have travelled the world, gained valuable industry experience and come out of it with a degree. For me, the traditional route to university was not the best option."
Steven Walker, Director General of Campden BRI said, "We are very proud of Harry's achievements. We want every member of staff to fulfil their potential and are passionate about training and development. Over the last five years we have sponsored 15 staff to undertake formal qualifications at college or university, and we currently have two staff members working towards PhDs alongside their day job. Many others get supported through our own training Academy."
After finishing his A Levels at Evesham High (now The DeMontfort School) Harry joined a local vegetable seed breeding company as a customer services and commercial plant breeding trials assistant. He then joined Campden BRI as process validation technologist and provided on-site technical support to food manufacturers.
In his current role as Campden BRI's Member Interest Group Manager, Harry is responsible for planning and delivering scientific and technical content for the company's industrial member meetings. Harry was able to use his connections with food companies to inject a real-life food industry perspective into his final year project on 'horizon scanning', which helps industry keep up-to-date with emerging risks, threats and opportunities.