Spotlight on: Cardiff University

This week, we spoke to Katie Waits from Pontypridd about how her first few months at Cardiff University have been.


How did you find the transition from high school to university?

Katie’s time at Cardiff started a bit wobbly, like many students she had first-time nerves and missed home.

“Generally, I’ve had an enjoyable time but initially it was difficult to make friends and I’ve had to learn to be a lot more independent.

“I quickly overcame these issues and threw myself into the aspects of university life I enjoy. For example, I’ve joined the Harry Potter society and used this to make friends with similar interests to me. Living just half and hour from home has helped me manage the transition as well and really enhanced my experience”


Why Cardiff?

“As a Russell Group university, Cardiff is an ideal choice for those wanting to aim high. I went to the Open Day and the English department was displayed amazingly, the course seemed really interesting with lots of choice in terms of modules – you can almost design your own course.

“As well as the great reputation, I was drawn to Cardiff for personal reasons. It’s just half an hour from home which is perfect for me, as I know I can suffer quite badly with homesickness. Having lived nearby for all my life, I was already quite familiar with the city which helped my transition.



What are your highlights?

“The lectures, definitely! I love to learn new things, and couldn’t wait to get back to it, especially having been away from education since June. So far, they have all been informative and incredibly interesting.

“Doing a joint-honours has meant that I get to study two subjects, which prevents either one getting boring. I’ve never studied journalism or media before and it’s fascinating learning the history and theory behind it. English has also introduced me to new ways of thinking, which is exciting!


How about outside of studying?

“Being close to home, I get to see my family a lot and I’m also still in touch with friends from school but I’m also enjoying having the independence to experience a new city.

“I spend a fair amount of time walking the streets of Cardiff (everything is in walking distance) getting familiar with living in a city rather than a town. I especially love the parks in Cardiff – they’re beautiful in Autumn because of the colours.

“It’s also been great to meet people in person that I got to know over Facebook during the Summer. There were a few Facebook groups set up for people that would be studying the same course, and I’ve made friends with some lovely people who I can sit with in lectures and chat with in a coffee shop.

“Cardiff is also the home of many popular TV programmes – for example Doctor Who and Sherlock. Also, the new Journalism building is right next door to the new BBC building, a perfect location for someone with an interest in the media, like me!



How was the applications process?

“It was straight-forward. The English course didn’t require any interviews or tests, the only tricky bit was the personal statement but thanks to help from the Seren Network, I managed to perfect it. The RCT hub co-ordinator encouraged us to send our personal statements to be reviewed by him before sending them off, which was a huge help. It was also helpful to meet speakers and instructors that had previously studied at Cardiff, giving us an insight into what tutors at Cardiff would be looking for.


Any tips?

“Yes! Number one; make sure you have a strong personal statement that reflects your passion for the subject, this is what will set you apart from the rest of the applicants. Secondly; there can be a lot of pressure to apply to certain universities, but you need to apply to the one you think you’ll enjoy the most. I felt like I’d enjoy my time at Cardiff, did my research and weighed up the pros and cons.”


We’re pleased to announce our latest speakers to the Seren 2018: Above and Beyond annual conference taking place on 4-6 December


Mike Nicholson – Director of Undergraduate Admissions and Outreach, University of Bath – Supporting Competitive Applications

Mike joined the University of Bath in October 2014, having previously worked as Director of Undergraduate Admissions and Outreach at the University of Oxford (2006-2014) and Head of Undergraduate Admissions and Student Recruitment at the University of Essex (1998-2006). Mike heads the team responsible for managing undergraduate student admissions, student recruitment (UK and international), funding guidance, access and widening participation, and learning partnerships. Mike is currently on the AQA Council, and co-Chaired the Social Mobility Practitioners’ Group established by Universities UK to advise the Minister for Higher Education on supporting progression from under-represented groups in society in 2016. He has recently joined the Evaluation Group for the Welsh Government’s Seren Programme. He was UK Chair of the Higher Education Liaison Officers’ Association from 2014-2017 and served as a member of the UCAS Council until January 2017. He represented English universities on the Welsh Qualifications Reform stakeholder group, and was involved in the SPA National Expert Think Tank on Qualifications Reform in 2015. Mike graduated in 1990 from the University of Sheffield with a degree in English and History. He also attended Allegheny College, Pennsylvania for a year as an exchange student.

Kirstie Ralph – Outreach Officer, University of Nottingham – University Panel Discussion

Kirstie Ralph

I’ve worked in HE for 4 years in several roles, including Student Recruitment, Admissions and most recently Widening Participation so have a broad knowledge of the University sector and practice in advising students in different settings. Until earlier this year I was working in an outreach capacity at the University of Cambridge, which had its own unique opportunities and challenges. I have since moved to Nottingham to concentrate more on project work, including the Brilliant Club and working on a new access initiative for White Working Class boys.

Carolyn Goodwin – Education Consultant, Carolyn Goodwin Consulting – Modern Foreign Languages

Carolyn Goodwin

Former Primary Languages Adviser for Wales, Carolyn is currently Freelance, running training for courses in primary methodology. With 15 years secondary teaching experience, Carolyn also lived and taught abroad and is passionate about encouraging young people to “think global”.

Your Global Future – what next after the languages classroom? Whether you have ever studied languages or opted for a different route, this session will explore the range of exciting skills and opportunities and experiences that you may not realise are waiting for you. Don’t just study your subject, live your subject.

Alice Else – Student Recruitment Officer, London School of Economics and Political Science – Supporting Competitive Applications

Alice Else is a Student Recruitment Officer in LSE’s Student Marketing and Recruitment team. She is responsible for recruitment from the UK and has particular responsibility for liaison with schools and colleges in the UK, including organisation of LSE’s Advising the Advisers conference for heads of sixth form and higher education advisers. Alice regularly visits schools and colleges in the UK to talk with prospective students, their parents and advisers covering all issues regarding applying to and studying at LSE.

Anna Williams – Schools Liaison and Marketing Officer, Bangor University – University Panel Discussion

Anna Williams

Responsible for providing a service to schools and colleges throughout Wales, giving guidance and support to prospective university students. Other responsibilities include marketing through the medium of Welsh and various events such as the Welsh Bacc conferences, Bangor University’s presence at the National Eisteddfod and the Urdd Eisteddfod. She is also responsible for the continued partnership with the North Wales Seren hubs (Anglesey & Gwynedd, Conwy & Denbighshire, and Flint & Wrexham), and attends recruitment events across the UK.

Louise Crane – Mezzo soprano and singing teacher – Applying for the Creative Industries/University Panel Discussion


Since making her debuts at Glyndebourne, English National Opera and the Belgium Royal Opera, Louise Crane has established herself as one of this country’s most sought-after and versatile mezzo sopranos.

She gained AGSM Diploma at the Guildhall, and subsequently won awards from Clonter Opera Trust and the Peter Moores Foundation, as well as a college scholarship, to study at the RNCM. After a season with Glyndebourne Festival Opera Lo won the Peter Stuyvestant Foundation Scholarship to the National Opera Studio where she completed her studies.

Her many & varied roles have included Mother Goose The Rake’s Progress  l; Giovanna Ernani, Ismene The Siege of Corinth, Death Le Rossignol and Smaragdi Francesca da,The Magic Flute and Mistress Quickly Falstaff ; Marcellina The Marriage of Figaro ; Flora La, Jocasta Oedipus Rex and Filipyevna Eugene Onegin ; The Sorceress Dido and Aeneas . She made her debut with English National Opera in Jonathan Harvey’s Inquest of Love and subsequently took part in the opera’s revival at the Brussels Opera.

Increasingly in demand for concert engagements at home and abroad, Louise has broadcast Rossini’s Stabat Mater with the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra, appeared on Friday Night is Music Night and toured with the Basque Symphony Orchestra of Spain and Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra and has recorded extracts from Handel’s Messiah for Classic FM and performed the same work in Britain and the Far East. Louise was also a member of the D’Oyly Carte Opera Company and  toured with the company in Britain and the USA and has had a long and regular association with Opera della Luna, Louise appears as a guest artist with Impropera, giving regular performances in London’s West End and King’s Place as well as at the Edinburgh Fringe.

She is a singing teacher at the Birmingham Conservatoire and also runs vocal workshops for choirs and trains business people in the art of presentation and use of vocal skills.

Louise is currently playing Juno Orpheus in the Underworld for Opera della Luna at the Iford Arts Music Festival, and on tour in the UK.

Steve Minney – Head of Undergraduate Recruitment, Swansea University – Supporting Competitive Applications

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Steve has worked in the fields of student recruitment, admissions policy and widening participation for over two decades within higher education. A former chair of HELOA Wales and experienced school governor, Steve is particularly interested in character education and changing definitions of successful learning.

Rhiannon Jenkins – NACE Associate, Wales – Sharing Research and Best Practice

Rhiannon Jenkins is NACE Associate, Wales. In this role she focuses on delivery and networking, building on the extensive work that NACE has developed in Wales. A bilingual speaker, Rhiannon works within various educational settings, delivering consultancy work, CPD and INSET days whilst also assisting on the promotion of the NACE Challenge Development Programme throughout Wales.

She has held positions as a deputy head, advisory teacher (Welsh and English) and a university lecturer in all aspects of literacy. Having contributed to a number of national initiatives relating to Welsh-medium provision, she is currently the Welsh first language subject specialist for Welsh Government. She has taught in the Welsh-medium sector throughout her teaching career, and has worked throughout Wales as an independent trainer and consultant.

Rhiannon was a key player in the Welsh medium provision of the Pisa Intervention Project that disseminated quality teaching practice across Wales. She was also instrumental in developing the elements and aspects of the Literacy and Numeracy Framework in Welsh. She commissions and monitors Welsh medium resources for schools for the Welsh Government. In addition, she has worked as an independent external mentor for newly qualified teachers (primary and secondary).

Dr Jo Marchant – Head of Widening Participation at King’s College London – University Panel Discussion

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Jo Marchant is Head of Widening Participation (KS3) at King’s College London. Previously, Jo worked for IntoUniversity where she helped set up a learning centre in Brighton. Prior to that she lectured in History at the University of Westminster. Jo studied History at LSE and completed a PhD in Victorian London at the Institute of Historical Research.



Vicky Speers – Graduate Ambassador, University of York – Adjusting to University Life

Vicky Spears

I’m a recent graduate from the University of York, graduating with a 2:1 degree in Biology specialising in Ecology, with a focus on plant and soil interactions. My degree provided the opportunity to take part in fieldwork and also large independent projects in a research lab. At university I worked part-time as a student ambassador getting involved in a number of student recruitment and widening participation events which inspired me to take up the position of Graduate Ambassador this year. I was also involved in a number of societies and volunteering programmes while at University which were a great way to meet people and enhanced my university experience greatly.

I grew up outside a small rural village in Northern Ireland moving to York for my studies. This was a large step for me and required time for me to adjust, not only to my new student life living with strangers and a completely new learning technique, but also living in a new country with many differences to my home. This proved to be a very positive experience and helped me to develop my confidence and independence greatly.

Georgina Taylor – Seren Network Ambassador, Theology and Philosophy Student, Cambridge University – Opening Student Keynote

My name is Georgina Taylor and I was part of the Bridgend Seren Network hub! I am currently in my first year studying Theology and Philosophy. I am a member of Selwyn College at the University of Cambridge. For my A Levels, I studied English Literature, Religious Studies, Geography and the Welsh Baccalaureate. The Seren Network helped me immensely with the application process for University. In the future, I hope to work in the either the charity sector or a Sixth Form College.

Iona Wyn Jones – WP University Preparation Team Intern, University of Bath – Adjusting to University Life

Iona Wyn Jones.jpg

I am an intern in the Widening Participation team at the University of Bath. I moved to Bath in 2014 from Snowdonia to study biology. Following the completion of my undergraduate degree, I completed an MSc in Biotechnology at the University of Nottingham. I aspire to use my passion for learning and education to help others reach their full potential.

Marie-Teresa Vander Sande, Program Director, MIT – MIT Session, Opening Address

Marie-Teresa Vander Sande has had extensive experience in the MIT Industrial Liaison Program working with companies in a variety of industrial sectors. From 1985-1987, Marie served a large portfolio of both U.S. and Japanese companies, focusing on the materials and manufacturing sectors. Marie rejoined MIT in October 1994 to work with client companies in the electronics and communications sectors. From July 1997 to June 1999, Marie served as Manager of Communications in the MIT Office of Corporate Relations, where she oversaw the ILP conference series, The MIT Report, and other information products and services. From June 1999- May 2010, Marie resumed working with corporate clients in both Europe and the US through the MIT Industrial Liaison Program. She has recently rejoined the MIT Office of Corporate Relations as a Senior Industrial Liaison Officer.

Marie’s industry and consulting background is both rich and varied. She worked at GE Aircraft Engines in Lynn, Massachusetts, as a Materials Engineer; at Arthur D. Little, Inc. as a professional staff member in the Materials Group; and for Millipore Corporation, managing the market research function in the Strategic Planning Group. In addition, Marie opened the US office for a small French consulting firm and has worked both as an independent consultant, performing marketing studies and technology assessments, and as a freelance writer, producing technology overviews and advertorials. During her most recent hiatus from MIT, Marie wrote several articles for the MIT TechInsider and worked as a consultant to Reykjavik University on developing graduate engineering programs. From January 2009 to June 2010, she served as the Executive Assistant to the Provost at Reykjavik University in Iceland.

Tomos Wood – Engineering Student, University of Cambridge – Opening Student Keynote

I am a second-year engineering student at Queens’ College, the University of Cambridge. I live in Anglesey and speak welsh fluently. I attended Ysgol Tryfan, Bangor, and went through the Seren Network experience during sixth form. I studied Maths, Further Maths, Chemistry, Physics and the Welsh Bac at A-level and am happy to answer any questions you may have on life as a STEM-subject student.

Peter Redshaw – Graduate Ambassador, University of York – Getting Career Ready

Peter Redshaw

I’m a recent law graduate from the University of York, graduating in Law with a Year Abroad (Hong Kong). I graduated with a first class degree from the Law School and ranked second in my cohort.

I’ve carried out extensive careers preparation during all four years at university, both with the assistance of the university and arranged independently. I’ve taken part in approximately 8 internships during my time at university, equating to roughly 3 months’ worth of practical experience. All my internships were directed toward law as that was the career I was interested in at the time. I was even fortunate enough to carry out work experience while studying in Hong Kong.

While at university I also worked as a student ambassador, working in Student Recruitment and Widening Participation at a variety of events. It was this part-time work which encouraged me to take up my current

role at the university.

In terms of next steps, I will be moving to work for a start-up Bioinformatics company in Cambridge next year. This career move away from law was a result of my work experience enabling me to recognise my own strengths as well as better understanding as my own interests.

Joseph Phillips – Student, St John Baptist Church in Wales School – Opening: Student Keynote

Joseph Phillips

I am 18 years old from Aberdare, some of many hobbies include; mountain biking, motocross and supporting my local rugby team. In addition to this I am also a volunteer for the Welsh Ambulance. I am currently studying Maths, Physics, Geography and Welsh Baccalaureate at A Level with a hope to study mechanical engineering at university. My interest in this field has only been enhanced the several opportunities I have been presented with, including; Yale Young Global Scholars, an introductory course with the Open University, UNIQ summer school, the Step Up Plus programme and work experience. From each of the above I have improved many skills which will aid me, given I am successful in attaining a career in the engineering industry.

Lucy Nottingham – Education Adviser, University of East Anglia – Effective Study Skills

Lucy Nottingham

An internationally renowned university based on a distinctive and attractive campus, in the historic city of Norwich, University of East Anglia pride themselves on the excellent academic, social and cultural facilities which we offer to over 15,000 students. UEA is a UK top 15 university, ranked 15th by The Times Good University Guide 2019 and 14th by The Complete University Guide 2019. Lucy has worked for the University for almost 10 years supporting students to choose the right university, and make their applications for Higher Education.

Tom Long – Student, Haverfordwest High School – Opening: Student Keynote

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I’m a year 13 student from Pembrokeshire studying Chemistry, Physics and Maths & Further Maths. Last summer I went on the Seren-Yale YYGS summer school and it opened my eyes to the opportunities that are available to Welsh students. I have since applied to Yale and I’m awaiting their decision. In the conference I’ll be talking about the opportunities available to students and why they shouldn’t hesitate in making the most of them.

Professor Peredur Lynch – Professor in Welsh & Medieval Literature, Prifysgol Bangor University – Maximising your Bilingualism

Prof Peredur Lynch

Professor Peredur Lynch is a prominent Welsh academic and he has worked in the higher education sector since 1985. At present he is a Professor in the School of Welsh at Bangor University and as a Celtic scholar he also regularly visits universities in north America and mainland Europe.

Ben Lund-Conlon – Access Officer (Post-16), UCL – University Panel Discussion

Ben L-C headshot

Having grown up in rural Devon, I moved to London for university and never looked back. Since graduating I have worked in school liaison, university outreach and widening participation both for a small subject specialist institution and a large multidisciplinary university, UCL. I have coordinated subject-specific masterclasses and conferences, summer schools with a focus on graduate careers, and I particularly enjoy hosting workshops for students writing their personal statements. I am now UCL’s primary contact regarding the national Realising Opportunities programme.

Owain Williams – Student, Coleg Cambria Yale – Studying in the US

Owain Williams

Hi, my name is Owain Williams, from Wrexham’s Coleg Cambria Yale, and I study A levels in maths, further maths, chemistry and physics. Last summer, I had the pretty special opportunity to go to the Frontiers of Science and Technology course at Yale University as part of the Yale Young Global Scholars Program. It was a once in a lifetime experience, and fully funded courtesy of the SEREN Network. There, I learnt a lot, but more importantly broadened my horizons about foreign cultures, and even met Kanye West’s next-door neighbour and Priyanka Chopra’s third cousin. Next year, I plan on going to university to study maths, and from there, who knows.

Grace Kendrick – Student, University of Bristol – Adjusting to University Life

Grace Kendrick

My name is Grace Kendrick, a Law Masters student at the University of Bristol. I have loved studying in Bristol and decided to complete my MA here upon the completion of my History undergraduate degree in 2017. My favourite part of being a student here is the encouraging staff, the freedom of research and the opportunities to develop key skills alongside your degree. I also love spending time exploring Bristol at the weekends! My favourite things to do are walking across Clifton Suspension Bridge to the deer park, having lunch at Harbourside, or visiting one of the exiting museums.

Abbie Mountford – Student Recruitment and Widening Participation Assistant, University of Manchester – Adjusting to University Life

Abbie Mountford

I am a Psychology graduate from the University of Manchester, and now work within the Student Recruitment and Widening Participation team.

Adam Amor – Director, Buffoon Film and Media – Applying for the Creative Industries

Adam Amor.jpeg

Adam is a Director at Buffoon Film and Media, a video production and live streaming company based in Port Talbot. Working across the UK, Buffoon produces video content and live streams event for clients such as Tata Steel, UK Government, Nintendo and the Football Association of Wales.

A former student of Ysgol Ystalyfera, he started in business at 14 with a music promotion company but then decided to venture into film at 18 and started Buffoon.

You can find out more here

George Stamets – PhD Researcher, University of Leeds – Politics, Philosophy and Economics Masterclass: Philosophy “An Introduction to Philosophy and the Free Will Debate”

George is a third-year PhD student in Philosophy at the University of Leeds, where he works under the supervision of Professor Helen Steward. He grew up in Easton, Pennsylvania, USA, and did his undergraduate work in Politics and Philosophy at the University of Pittsburgh. He completed an MA in Philosophy at Florida State University. His primary research interests concern the metaphysics of agency and the free will debate. He also has significant interests in ethics generally (especially meta-ethics and social and political philosophy), metaphysics (especially causation, laws of nature, modality, and personhood) and Epistemology. Outside of academics, George enjoys frequent treks into the British countryside, playing in softball tournaments across the UK on summer weekends, and doing some digital and film photography, especially of landscapes and wildlife.

Emyr Davies – Human, Social and Political Sciences, Cambridge University – Opening Student Keynote

Hi, I’m Emyr. I’ve just finished my first term studying Human, Social and Political Sciences at Jesus College, Cambridge. I come from Llandrindod Wells in Mid Wales.

Our Seren conference app is now live!

Exciting news! This year, we have launched an app for our Above and Beyond conference. You can download it in the Apple or Android store by searching: ‘Seren Events’ or ‘Digwyddiadau Seren Events’

Seren app pic

Now that you have downloaded the Seren Conference 2018 event guide here are a few hints and tips about how to make the most of your experience:

To ensure all text is displayed in Welsh please select Welsh as your chosen language in the settings on your device.

Some of the menu items are bilingual – My Timetable, Floorplan, General Info, Inbox, Twitter, Facebook and Feedback

However for the more detailed timetable, session descriptions, speaker biographies and exhibitor profiles – you will need to click on either the English or Cymraeg menu item to access this content in your preferred language.


You will notice that there are 6 different timetables displayed under each language – one for students and one for professionals (teachers and staff) on each of the 3 days of the conference.  Firstly it is really important that you are looking at the right one before you start to set up you own personalised timetable through the ‘My Timetable’ function.

My Timetable:

The My Timetable feature enables you to customise your own schedule by adding sessions from the main timetables located in the English or Cymraeg folders to the My Timetable module.  Just make sure you are looking at the timetable for the day you are attending the conference (4th, 5th or 6th) and that you are looking at the correct strand – Student / Professional.    You can even set up alerts so that you know where you are due to go next.


At the end of the last session of the day you will be given 5 minutes to reflect on your experience and to let us know what you thought of the event.  Please take the time to click on the feedback menu item on the app and complete the short online survey.  This will help us improve and build on the success of the Seren conferences in the future.

All you need to know about student finance for university

This week, Phil Lynes from Student Finance Wales gives the lowdown on how you can get help from Welsh Government with support for living and tuition fees, meaning you can focus on studying, not making ends meet.

English image

If you’re thinking about your next steps and are considering going to university, it’s worth knowing that there is financial support available to cover your living costs.

All eligible Welsh students starting an undergraduate course can apply for support to cover their living costs – so rent, bills and spending money – while they study. The support on offer is a mixture of grants and loans that reach the equivalent to the National Living Wage.

This means you can focus on your studies and spend less time worrying about whether you have enough money to live on.

For students with relatively low household income, most of the financial support for living costs will be a grant which does not have to be paid back.

Who is eligible?

First time undergraduates (full and part-time) starting a course could be eligible. Students aged over 60 may be eligible for a fee loan and a grant for study/living costs, but won’t be eligible for a maintenance loan. All students from Wales can apply, no matter where they plan to study in the UK.

How much will I get?

The minimum grant you will get is £1,000, which you do not have to pay back. If you’re studying full-time as an undergraduate, through a mixture of grants and loans, you could be eligible for up to £11,250 a year towards your living costs if you live away from home and study in London, and £9,000 per year in the rest of the UK. Part-time undergraduates will receive similar support, on a pro-rata basis based on course intensity and household income.

Grants will be means-tested to support those who need them most. If you are from a lower income household, you will receive the highest grant. You can take out a maintenance loan to top up what you get. The maximum loan amount will depend on how much grant you receive.

If you are studying full-time you could also get up to £1,500 towards reducing your maintenance loan when you make the first loan repayment under the Welsh Government partial cancellation scheme.

What about tuition fees?

Most students won’t have to pay anything upfront for their course. Full and part-time students can apply for a separate loan to cover tuition fees. Tuition fees are set by the university or college. In Wales, tuition fees have been capped at £9,000 per year but in other parts of the UK you could be charged up to £9,250 per year for a full-time undergraduate course.

Student Finance Wales provides a loan to cover your tuition fees, which you will have to repay once you start earning over £25,000. Loans to cover tuition fees are not means-tested. You’ll be charged interest on your Tuition Fee Loan from the first day the money is paid to your university or college until the loan is repaid in full or cancelled.

How do I apply?

Students who a starting a course in 2018/19 can apply now. Further information for students starting a course in 2019/20 will be available later in the year.

Applying for student finance is simple and is done directly through the Student Finance Wales website The online application system for students applying for 2018/19 is now live. The application system for full-time students starting their course in 2019/20 will be open in the spring. Part-time and postgraduate students will be able to apply in early summer.

Student Finance Wales is a service delivered by the Student Loans Company. It provides student finance on behalf of the Welsh Government to students from Wales entering higher education in the UK.

Remember you can apply for grants and loans to help with your living costs and a loan to cover your tuition fees upfront.

For up-to-date information about when you can apply, follow Student Finance Wales on Twitter and Facebook or bookmark the website.



We’re pleased to announce our latest speakers to the Seren 2018: Above and Beyond annual conference taking place on 4-6 December.

Andrea Jones – Head of Undergraduate Studies (Music) and Head of Learning & Teaching, Royal Welsh College of Music & Drama – Applying for the Creative Industries

Andrea Jones graduated from the Royal Academy of Music, London in 1996, having completed her violin studies with Howard Davis, Mateja Marinkovic and baroque violin with Simon Standage and Elisabeth Wallfisch. Since then she has enjoyed a varied and busy career as a freelance violinist, working with the majority of British period instrument groups often as section principal, co-leader or leader, with ensembles

such as The King’s Consort, The Gabrieli Consort, The Sixteen, The Academy of Ancient Music, The Hanover Band, The Early Opera Company, The Avison Ensemble, The English Baroque Soloists and The Orchestra Romantique et Revolutionnaire. Andrea has also combined her orchestral and chamber music activities with extensive commercial, recording, TV and film work.

Teaching has always been a significant part of Andrea’s core work and she has more than 25 years’ experience in this area. In 2004, she began working at the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama as a teacher and lecturer, undertaking the role of BMus Award leader in 2013. In 2015 Andrea was appointed Head of Learning and Teaching and, as a Senior Fellow of the Higher Education Academy (2016) she is involved with many aspects of support for student experience and staff development. Current interests focus on developing programmes to support student journeys, with a particular interest in self-efficacy, resilience and personal development.

Sam Wenman – Widening Participation Outreach Programmes Manager, University of Bath – Studying in the UK vs Overseas

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I am the Widening Participation Outreach Programmes Manager at the University of Bath where I head up the University Preparation Team. We provide support and expertise to help ensure students

are making informed choices, submitting competitive and appropriate applications, and are in a position to make the most of their time at university.

I have been at the University for 5 years and have led the design and delivery of our programme of outreach activities including On Track to Bath, Widening Participation Summer Schools, Key Stage 4 curriculum support projects, as well as our portfolio of talks and workshops.

Before coming to the University I was Deputy Head of Sixth Form at Chancellor’s school in Hertfordshire where I also taught History. Prior to that I managed language schools in both Japan and Spain. I am a great believer in the transformative power of education and passionate about supporting people to explore their potential and make the most of their opportunities.

Sofya Lyakhova – Programme Leader of the Further Mathematics Support Programme, Wales – Maths and Further Maths


Sofya is the Programme Leader of the Further Mathematics Support Programme Wales. Sofya holds a PhD in pure mathematics from Bristol University and PGCE from Swansea Metropolitan University. Sofya’s early research interests were in the field of partial differential equations. She has led a number of research projects in mathematical education, such as student choice of mathematics post-16, transition from school to university mathematics and blended learning.

She is passionate about more children achieving well in mathematics to allow them to access interesting university courses and well paid jobs. Sofya developed the mathematics outreach programme and is the organiser of the RI Mathematics Master classes in Swansea University. She works with SEREN Hubs on STEP and MAT provision for A-level Mathematics students. Sofya is a Senior HEA Fellow and a member of BSRLM, ATM, MA and MEI.

Sandy Mill – Schools Liaison Officer, Magdalene College, University of Cambridge – Opening Address and Keynote, Thinking about Oxford and Cambridge, University Panel Discussion, University of Cambridge Stand


Sandy Mill is the Schools Liaison Officer for Magdalene College, University of Cambridge. A former secondary school teacher, he has worked extensively with the Seren hubs in North and West Wales for over three years. He is a founding member of the Cambridge Seren Support Group, and has overseen the creation of the Cambridge Seren Ambassadors programme.

Sandy can be found at the University of Cambridge stand, alongside current students to answer any questions that you have about living and studying at the university, as well as the courses they offer.

Michael Waters, Head of the Young Actors Studio, Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama – Applying for the Creative Industries: Audition Process for Conservatoire/Drama School

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Michael trained at the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama (RWCMD) and over the last twenty years has successfully combined a career as a playwright and theatre director alongside broad range of roles in arts education. Following periods of study in Russia and Asia, Michael co-founded Antic Theatre and has worked on commissions with a broad range of organisations from high profile projects with the BBC, to community driven performances in collaboration with Dyfed Powys Police. He is currently Head of the Young Actors Studio at RWCMD.

Christina Evered – Trainee Solicitor, Eversheds Sutherland (International) LLP – Getting Career Ready


Christina is a trainee solicitor at Eversheds Sutherland (International) LLP in Cardiff. Before starting her career at Eversheds, Christina studied for her A-Levels at St David’s Catholic College and was awarded for gaining the highest mark in the UK for her A-Level Law exams. Subsequently, she went on to read Law with European Study at the University of Exeter gaining a 2:1 degree. During her time at university, she spent a year studying abroad in Maastricht, the Netherlands, to further her interest in the subject, as well as her interest in travel. The final stage in her education was studying the Legal Practice Course at BPP Law School in Bristol prior to starting her current role with Eversheds. Christina is currently working in the Real Estate Energy department assisting with various large scale renewable energy projects.

Samuel Coles – Customer Solutions, Commercial Banking Graduate, NatWest – Getting Career Ready

samuel coles

I graduated from university of Plymouth in 2017 having completed a degree in Business studies specialising in Sales & Marketing. Alongside which I completed my Certificate in Digital Marketing through the IDM. I worked for a year in a variety of Sales & Marketing roles with a number of high profile names including Google, Microsoft and Hewlett Packard before setting my sights on graduate training schemes with a focus on the UK’s largest industry, financial services. I was fortunate enough to land a place on the graduate scheme with RBS in customer solutions and have been with the NatWest commercial coverage team since September 2018.

David Clarke – Professor, Cardiff University – Modern Foreign Languages

David clarke

David Clarke has been teaching German and European Studies in British universities since 2000. He has a wide range of teaching and research interests in the field of German and European culture, with a particular focus on memory and heritage. The masterclass will look at the many options available for students interested in taking a modern languages degree, before focusing on a key issue for research and teaching in modern languages today: how different societies come to terms with difficult pasts.

More speakers to be announced soon…
Seren 2018: Above and Beyond Speakers – Professionals’ Programme:
Ian Dickson, Mamta Arnott, Sarah Lewis – Estyn – MAT Policy Update

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Estyn’s mission is to achieve excellence for all learners in Wales by providing independent, high-quality inspection and advice services. Our vision is to be recognised through the expertise of our staff as an authoritative voice on education and training in Wales. We are responsible for inspecting the following education providers;

• Nursery schools and settings that are maintained by, or receive funding from, local authorities

• Primary schools

• Secondary schools

• Special schools

• Pupil referral units

• Independent schools

• Further education

• Independent specialist colleges

• Adult community learning

• Local authority education services for children and young people

• Regional education consortia

• Teacher education and training

• Welsh for adults

• Work-based learning

• Learning in the justice sector

Estyn also provides advice to the Welsh Government on quality and standards in education and training in Wales and publicises good practice based on inspection evidence.

Paul Martin – Project Manager, Advancing Access – Enriching MAT Learners

Paul Martin.jpg

Paul is the Project Manager for Advancing Access, an initiative of the 24 Russell Group universities. Advancing Access provides CPD for teachers and advisers through a combination of online resources, online events and regional conferences. Paul is also studying for a PhD in Education at the University of Warwick and his research is focusing on Widening Participation in Higher Education.

Ross Guy – Schools Liaison Manager, Durham University – University Panel Discussion

ross guy

After finishing university I joined the military to give me a chance to see the world. After five years as a weapons specialist I left and worked as a PE and maths teacher in a secondary school in Newcastle. I enjoyed this a lot, as was quickly made Head of PE and was part of the school’s leadership team. After ten years of teaching I became disillusioned with the direction of Secondary Education, so I decided to move into Higher Education with Durham University. I now travel around the UK, talking to students about university, and helping them with their applications.

Outside of work I spend my time playing and coaching rugby, and playing the drums in a 80s cover band. As can be seen from my colourful career, I tend to get quite restless, so who knows what I’ll be doing in a few years’ time…

More speakers to be announced soon…

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My experience of the Seren Network, and tips for the upcoming Seren Conference

By Alex Roberts – Conwy, Denbighshire 

Alex Roberts

“I’m Alex, a first year at Cambridge University studying Biological Natural Sciences, and over the past couple of years I have been involved in the Seren Network. I attended quite a few of their events, where I was given the opportunity to explore different subjects, and speak with people from a lot of universities, which helped me to decide the path I wanted to go down.

“The Seren Conference is a chance for you to find out specifics about choosing a course, universities, applications and other opportunities. There are a few things that you can do beforehand in preparation to make the most of your time there. It is important to plan what sessions you are going to attend, and to think about some questions you have on the relevant topics. So, for example, you’ve decided that you want to go to one of the subject talks (a particularly valuable resource if you aren’t sure about what course you want to do). Think about what you would need to know to begin making the decision of whether that course is the right one for you.

“Speaking to representatives of different universities at the conference gave me a clearer understanding of what was on offer. It is useful to try and have an idea of what it is that you want from a university, so that when you go to their stalls, you know what to consider, and what to ask. The representatives are good at giving you an idea of what their university is like, and what you need to do to get there should you like what you hear. I found this section of the day particularly helpful in choosing what universities to apply to, so don’t be scared to go and talk to people. Most universities will have copies of this year’s prospectus with them. They are invaluable in comparing universities, deciding on courses, and are extremely good for reference after the event – so don’t forget to pick one up!

“When it comes to making decisions about university, you aren’t realistically going to remember everything you hear or find out at the conference, a lot of which will be quite relevant. This is why it is important to take some notes. Though, it can be quite tempting to write every single thing down, and I have found that this can cause you to pay less attention to the talk itself, so try to keep it concise and just note down the most important things.

“Finally, make sure to be proactive. Ask lots of questions, tailor the event to what you need it to be, and find out what you need to know. Good luck, and enjoy!”

We are now fully booked for Tuesday 4th and Wednesday 5th December. There are still places available for Thursday 6th December and the good news is that the booking deadline has been extended to 21st November for this final date.

We’re pleased to announce our latest speakers to the Seren 2018: Above and Beyond annual conference taking place on 4-6 December.

Seren 2018: Above and Beyond Speakers – Students’ Programme:
Rebecca Watkins – Talent Attraction Manager, Dwr Cymru Welsh Water – Beyond Seren: Engaging with Employers

Rebecca Watkins

An HR professional with valuable experience and insight into employer requirements for recruitment including apprentice and graduate recruitment. My current role focuses on what our business wants in terms of talent, particularly in Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths.

Random, Interesting Facts – I appeared as an audience member on “The Saturday Show” (a very old kids tv programme). I have sung in choirs and held the lead female part in my School’s take on “Little Shop of Horrors”. I have also received Classical singing training as part of my performing arts background – I’m not very good though.


Luke Healey – Freelance Tutor – Language and Culture Masterclass – Art History and Visual Studies: How to talk about Art, not-Art, and the difference between the two


I completed my PhD in Art History and Visual Studies at the University of Manchester in Winter 2017, submitting a thesis entitled “The Art of Football: Visual Culture and the Beautiful Game, 1992-2016”. Chapters from this thesis looking at subjects ranging from Zinedine Zidane to animated GIFs to tabloid treatments of “diving” have been published in a variety of places, including Cabinet magazine and two academic anthologies.

I have taught and arranged conferences and seminar programmes on a range of topics relating to art, literature and cultural theory, including tutoring on the Brilliant Club Scholars Programme module “Through the Looking Glass: An Introduction to Literary Theory” in 2016-17. I am currently busy on a number of essays about the relationship between sport and The Arts, in addition to working as a freelance tutor for a variety of companies including UKCN, an organisation that advises and assists international students in applying for postgraduate positions at prestigious UK universities.

Liam Rahman – Director & Co-Founder, E-Qual Education – Studying in the US – Studying overseas as an undergraduate / Career panel / International opportunities


A native of South Wales, Liam studied at Yale University (USA) and Yale-NUS College (Singapore), majoring in Philosophy, Politics & Economics (PPE). Prior to returning to Wales to further develop E-Qual, Liam also worked in investment management at BW Group and Goldman Sachs. Liam is a member of Yale’s Alumni Schools Committee (ASC), representing the university’s admissions and outreach efforts in the UK. An avid supporter of the Seren Network, in early 2018, Liam worked with Seren to establish the network’s partnership with the Yale Young Global Scholars (YYGS) summer programme.

Lauren Hughes – Higher Education Advisor, University of East Anglia – Effective Study Skills

I am a qualified teacher with three years of teaching experience. For the last two years, I have been working at the University of East Anglia as a Higher Education Adviser. I work with sixth form students in Kent, Hampshire, Isle of Wight, West Sussex, East Sussex and Dorset but also travel to other parts of the UK now and again. I speak to students about finance, choosing a university and the right course, opportunities at

university, studying abroad and how to write personal statements.

Dr Hannah Hodgkiss-Geere – Senior Lecturer in Small Animal Cardiology/Director of Undergraduate Recruitment, Institute of Veterinary Science, University of Liverpool – Applying to veterinary medicine and what can I do with a veterinary degree (and not just clinical practice!)

I am a veterinary surgeon who has been practising for over 12 years. During this time I have worked in farm animal and small animal general practice and am now a European Specialist in Small Animal Cardiology,

working in a University and actively teaching veterinary students. I have also worked in scientific research and have an MSc in virology, a PhD in cardiac stem cells and have ongoing research in both stem cells and

cardiac diseases. I also now am the Director of Undergraduate Recruitment for the University of Liverpool Vet School and am now actively engaging with students who may want to be vets, but also with students who may not have considered veterinary science as a possible degree option.

Angharad Thomas – Head of Strategy and Insights, Golley Slater Cardiff – Applying for the creative industries / Beyond Seren: engaging with employers


Angharad is originally from Gowerton in Swansea. She went to Ysgol Gyfun Gwyr, a Welsh medium comprehensive in Swansea. After school, she went on to study Modern Languages at Cambridge University – focusing on Italian and French. Her first graduate job was at DDB London (now Adam&EveDDB) a creative agency in Paddington. Though she started her advertising career in account management, she then went on to be a strategist (or planner) and worked at top global agencies including Wieden & Kennedy and WCRS. During her time in London, she worked on campaigns that have won awards at Cannes, DNADs, Creative Circle as well as IPA and APG effectiveness awards.

Though London was great fun, the pull of Wales was strong. Last year, she moved back to Wales to work at integrated creative agency Golley Slater, where she is now Head of Strategy and Insights. She works across all communications – from media, PR to, big TV ads. She says it’s great to be working at home in Wales, after being away for so long.

Dr Mandy Peffers – Wellcome Trust Clinical Intermediate Fellow/ Senior Lecturer – University of Liverpool – Getting into veterinary medicine


After a degree in Animal Science at the University of Leeds, I undertook my veterinary degree at The Royal Veterinary College, University of London and qualified as a veterinarian in 1995. I then spent 11 years in industry and private practice before going back to do a PhD supported by the Wellcome Trust. I first undertook a one-year Wellcome Trust Veterinary Research Entry Fellowship before becoming a Wellcome Trust Integrated Veterinary Training Fellow. The first three years of funding were for a PhD entitle ‘Proteomic and transcriptomic signatures of cartilage ageing and disease’. The next three years of the fellowship were in a post-doctoral role in which I studied ‘A Systems Biology Approach to Musculoskeletal Ageing’. I am currently a Wellcome Trust Clinical Intermediate Fellow studying ‘The role of small nucleolar RNAs in cartilage ageing and disease’. My research group consists of four PhD students and a research assistant.

I am a member of the ‘Admissions and Widening Participation Committee of the University of Liverpool Veterinary School’. As part of this role I interview potential vet students and assess the work experience documentation undertaken by prospective students. I am also veterinary undergraduate intercalation co-ordinator.

David Willock – Reader – School of Chemistry, Cardiff University – Natural Sciences with a focus on Chemistry and the overlap of Physics and Chemistry.


The research area will involve looking at the way that molecules can adsorb and react on solid surfaces.

My first degree is in Physics with Electronics from Salford University. I then moved to London to the Physics department of Queen Mary College, University of London to study photoconductivity in polymer materials. As part of that work I became interested in computer simulation applied to materials and after gaining the PhD moved to University College London to apply modelling to organic crystal structures in the Department of Chemistry there. Ever since I have worked in the application of computational techniques to chemical problems and am now working in Cardiff using theoretical chemistry to understand practical catalysis. In particular how surfaces can activate molecules to build new chemical structures.

Professor Dylan E. Jones – Deputy Vice Chancellor and Dean of the Athrofa: Institute of Education, University of Wales, Trinity St David – Maximising your Bilingualism


Prof Dylan E. Jones is Deputy Vice Chancellor and Dean of the Athrofa: Institute of Education at the University of Wales, Trinity Saint David (UWTSD)
Dylan ,of Bryncrug, Tywyn, Gwynedd was also Chair of the Welsh Government School Practitioner Panel, established to advise the Minister and support in the development of education policy in Wales. He was also a member of the Qualifications Wales Shadow Board.

Mark Llewelyn Evans – Opera Singer / Entrepreneur / Author / Creative Director, ABC of Opera Ltd – Applying for the Creative Industries


Welsh baritone Mark studied at the Guildhall School of Music & Drama and the National Opera Studio, London and has worked alongside many major names in the entertainment industry including Katherine Jenkins, Alfie Boe, David Blaine, Rob Brydon, Dame Kiri Te Kanawa. Mark`s career has taken him throughout the world from singing title roles in international opera houses, his one man show to 1,000`s, a blockbuster

movie as well as the ‘Bread of Heaven’ for The Six Nations Rugby tournament at the Millennium Stadium,

to 75,000. Mark’s debut album ‘Let the Light in’ topped the UK classical charts. He then released a

single, ‘Tell my Father’ performing with the Band of the Welsh Guards which became a number one in the

UK, benefitting the Welsh Guards Afghanistan Appeal. Mark was very honoured to be part of this appeal.

Mark is artistic director for Opera Sark, as well as Founder and Creative Director of ABC of Opera Ltd, an

educational project that delivers cross curriculum workshops introducing children to the wonder of

classical music. To date ABC of Opera has delivered to over 150 school with their first book of four “The

Academy of Barmy Composer” being publish in 2019 with a stage show to follow.

Ffion Bailey – Education Liaison Officer, University of St Andrews – Studying in the UK vs Studying Abroad

Originally from North Wales, I attended my local Welsh language schools before studying History at The University of St Andrews. Having enjoyed my time there so much, I decided to stay and started working for Admissions. The University of St Andrews combines the very best of our six centuries of history with contemporary culture and outstanding teaching. It is a busy and close-knit community which brings together

people from all over the world. We have been voted 1st for Student Satisfaction in the UK (National Student Survey 2018) and are ranked 1st in Scotland and 3rd in the UK in the league tables (The Times and The Sunday Times Good University Guide 2019, The Guardian University Guide 2019). If you have any questions about St Andrews, please do ask.

I am contributing to the ‘Studying in the UK vs Studying Abroad’ talk in order to explain the flexibility and breadth of the Scottish degree structure and shine a light on all the great universities that students have to choose from. The choice of which university to attend is a personal one to you, and it is important that you study and live at an institution where you will be happy. My aim is to give you all the information you need to make that choice.

Seren 2018: Above and Beyond Speakers – Professionals’ Programme:
Mitchell Purnell – Area Manager, Unifrog Education Ltd – Enriching MAT Learners


At Unifrog, we believe that destinations – where students end up after school – is even more important than their academic performance. We partner with almost 1500 schools worldwide, to support students to progress into the best opportunity for them.

We do this by providing a one-stop-shop where students can explore their interests, then find and successfully apply for their best next step after school. We also enable the staff to manage the progression process effectively.

Luke Olsson and Michael Grugan – Graduate Teaching Assistant, York St John University – Student Health and Wellbeing- Perfectionism and Mental Health among Students

olsson MGrugan-Staff-Profile

Luke and Michael are currently doctoral researchers at York St John University where they are also members of the Motivation, Performance, and Well-being (MPAW) research group. This group is amongst the largest in the world dedicated to examining the causes and consequences of being perfectionistic. Over the past 4 years, the group has produced over 80 peer-reviewed publications in leading international journal and presented on the topic of perfectionism around the world. Their research has been funded by various organisations including the Wellcome Trust, The Society for Education, Music and Psychology Research, The Harold Hyam Wingate Foundation, and the European Union (Framework 7).

Anna Burchfiel – WP and UG Recruitment Officer, University of Bristol – The UCAS Process – an insight into the timeline and process of applying to university, and advice on what to do on A Level Results Day


Anna has been working in higher education for the past five years, assisting young people from a wide variety of backgrounds to access elite universities, degree subjects and professions. Anna has run

Confirmation and Clearing activities at a Russell Group university, and has a thorough understanding of UK university admissions.

More speakers to be announced soon…