Mark Brownlie
Coatbridge College - Access to Social Sciences
University of Stirling - Sociology & Criminology
Hi, I’m Mark. I’m 46 and I was brought up in Glasgow.  My father was an electrician and my mother did various types of work. I was the oldest grandchild and bright enough academically, so my parents had the expectation that I would attend university when I completed my 6th year studies.  If I had gone straight to university after leaving school, I would have been the first in my family to do so. But, at the age of 15, I had other ideas....  
By the time I got to second year at secondary school, I was bored.  The range of subjects available was limited compared with what is available today and, in any case, I had already decided to become a soldier. That was my dream job, so my studies began to suffer as my interest in education steadily dwindled. After completing my "O" Levels, I attended the recruiting offices in Glasgow and within five months I was undertaking my basic training.  

My military career lasted nearly 23 years. I completed training in a wide variety of subjects and became an instructor in various subjects myself. In trying to escape the classroom I managed to enjoy a career in which I attended courses throughout my time in classrooms!

 <mark_brownlie_2.jpg> The ability to progress through education was an important part of Army life, with the reward being greater financial benefits and responsibilities. I travelled the world and enjoyed it to the full. I trained other soldiers and mentored others.  

After leaving the Army, I still wanted to work, but physical work was not an option due to injuries sustained during my service, and other health issues.  I had pensions that provided me with an income, so I wasn’t entitled to any benefits, but having those pensions coming in also meant that I could afford to return to study.  I had attended a part time course during this transition period and, on returning to Scotland, decided to gain the university degree which I postponed earlier.  

The SWAP course was an eye opener for me. The political correctness when discussing certain subjects was difficult after years in a mostly all male environment with like-minded individuals. This is an issue I am still mastering! The course was interesting and at times demanding. I learned skills I had forgotten and new skills which helped me to learn and be prepared for degree level study. I found support was available for any issues which may impede my study and for the health issues I already had. There was camaraderie within the class which also helped a great deal. There was always a different perspective to be found.  

At the end of my SWAP programme, I was happy to have passed all of the units and I was impatient to get started at university. I was happy to move up a gear and put the skills I had to use. I was confident I could attain a degree, but the SWAP course built up that confidence further by providing me with real skills which I would need for university study. I was also more PC aware, which was no bad thing.  I’m now in second year (2014/15) at university.  I have an idea of where I want to work and I aim to attend postgraduate study if necessary to get there. I would like to specialise in a specific area after gaining my Sociology/Criminology degree.  

To those going to or hoping to go to university, do not be afraid. The SWAP programme will prepare you very well.  During my first year at university, I found I was better prepared than most of the school leavers for the level of work, and I knew what to expect. Listen to your tutors at college, and believe you will succeed. Ask questions and ask for help when you need to. There is a mentoring programme also available, so use it!  

Mark is a volunteer in the
SWAP Student Mentoring Network.
Fill out the details below and one of our advisors will contact you.
about us