By Press Office 17 October 2016

QMU postgraduate student, Annie Fowden, has achieved significant academic and career success after continuously learning how to manage her dyslexia.

Dyslexia is a language based learning disability that affects around one in 10 people. The British Dyslexia Association defines dyslexia as ‘a combination of abilities and difficulties that affect the learning process in one or more of reading, spelling and writing’. People with dyslexia may experience difficulties with reading, processing, short-term memory, organisational skills and hearing or visual perception.

Annie became aware of her dyslexia when she was just five years old and had struggled with aspects of learning throughout her early education due to the limited knowledge about dyslexia and how to manage it within her school. As a result, she was unsure whether university was a viable option for her and thought that career opportunities may be restricted.

However, Annie believes dyslexia is becoming more widely recognised and that greater support with how to manage dyslexia is now available. After securing a place at QMU to study Events Management in 2012 and after much determination and hard work, Annie achieved a first class honours degree in 2016.

During her time at QMU, the University’s Disability Service team quickly identified the learning challenges Annie was facing, having supported many other QMU students with dyslexia in the past. The team carried out a needs assessment and developed an Individual Learning Plan (ILP) to support Annie’s learning difficulties.

QMU assigned an external tutor to Annie to offer her personalised and continued support throughout her QMU journey. Annie benefited from support each academic year, which included help developing her writing, referencing and time management skills. The QMU Disability Services team also helped Annie secure funding from the Disabled Students’ Allowance (DSA) to buy a laptop with assistive software.

The positive impact of this continued support meant that Annie’s academic performance improved consistently each year. Her grades increased from Es and Ds in her first year to As and Bs in her final year. She graduated with a first class honours degree from QMU in 2016.

Annie said: “The support I received from QMU’s Disability Service team has had one of the biggest and most positive influences on my experience at QMU. The help I’ve had has given me a huge confidence boost and has allowed me to reach my academic potential, as well as opening doors to new career opportunities.

“The Disability Service team always made time for me and always made sure I was offered personalised advice. My advice to other students with dyslexia at QMU is get out there and find out about the specialist support available to you on campus.”

Annie was also one of the first QMU students to be selected for the new Apex Hotels and QMU Scholarship Programme. Apex Hotels and QMU have teamed up to launch the scheme, which is helping to bolster career opportunities for hospitality and events students each academic year. The move aims to create a new generation of hospitality leaders who can transform Scotland’s hospitality industry so that it is a key player on the world stage.

Annie received a bursary and began her management apprenticeship with Apex Hotels in February 2016. The new Scholarship Programme supported Annie during her final year of study at QMU and provided her with paid work experience with Apex Hotels. The opportunity allowed Annie to gain hands-on experience across all areas of the business. She also conducted a research project which aimed to find solutions to internal organisational problems.

Annie has now secured further employment with Apex Hotels, which is also providing additional funding to help further her postgraduate education at QMU. Annie has already enrolled on the University’s new Master in Public Administration (MPA), which she hopes to complete in 2017.

Commenting on her experience on the Apex Hotels and QMU Scholarship Programme, Annie said: “I was really excited to have been one of the first QMU students to join the scheme. It has allowed me to develop myself professionally and personally and learn new skills and continue to postgraduate level study at QMU.”

For more information on Disability Service at QMU, visit

www.qmu.ac.uk/student-services/disability.htm

For more information on Disabled Students’ Allowance:

Student Awards Agency for Scotland (SAAS) www.saas.gov.uk

Student Finance England (SFE) www.gov.uk/disabled-students-allowances-dsas

Student Finance Wales www.studentfinancewales.co.uk/new-students/201617-what-financial-support-is-available/extra-support/disabled-students-allowances.aspx#.V8gSEDgUXpA

Student Finance Northern Ireland (SFNI) www.studentfinanceni.co.uk

Notes to Editor

For further media information contact Jonathan Perkins, Press and PR Officer, E: jperkins@qmu.ac.uk T: 0131 474 0000.

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