Clearing a way from sports and leisure to biotechnology

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Lynne Perry found that disappointing results in her Highers opened a new and unexpectedly bright future. She originally hoped to study sports and leisure. "I'd always enjoyed it at school and was always `sporty' outside school." She first applied for places on three courses. However, her three Cs in Biology, Maths and Physical Education, and a D in English, were not good enough to secure any offer, so she took part in the UCAS clearing process.

"I picked universities near home - Stirling, Glasgow, and other places round here. I phoned them and told them what grades I had. They said they'd find courses suitable for the grades I had and asked me what I was interested in. I told them, but they said `we don't do that - but these are the nearest courses you could do'. I then got leaflets and other information sent to me on all the courses I could do.

"I ended up with a choice of four or five subject choices. Because I had done Biology, one suggestion was Biotechnology at Abertay University in Dundee. I'd never even heard of biotechnology before! However, I read the leaflets on it and thought `that sounds really good'. That was the course I chose - and it's good fun. I think I now prefer it to having gone into sport, so it's worked out well."

Biotechnology is an interdisciplinary subject which covers biochemistry, microbiology, genetics, chemical engineering and molecular biology. Main career areas have traditionally been in the pharmaceutical and fermentation industries. But many new industries are being established to develop new products or processes using biotechnology techniques.

Lynne has now completed her first year on the course and according to the university has done well. She herself says: "So far I've done two lots of exams and we are also under continuous assessment. And so far I'm happy with my progress." As yet she has no clear of what she wants to do once she graduates and is keeping her options open.

What advice would she offer to other students with poorer results than they originally hoped for? "Look at other subjects, not just what you've always wanted to do. because you might find something you will enjoy better.

"You also need to act quickly. So if your results are lower than you hoped, don't wait to find out whether or not you have been accepted for a course. Although a university might lower the grades needed, you shouldn't wait to find out. Start looking at other options. After all, you've only two months from getting your results and the start of the courses."