Mature Students: Janis Stacey had designs on a better career

AFTER HER A-levels, Janis Stacey left school and walked into a job as fashion designer. About a year later, having married, Janis left to raise a family, deciding to return to her career as her children were approaching their teens.

She soon realised that the economic climate had changed and her short time in the trade before leaving was deemed insufficient to be trusted with an immediate return to a design job. Janis could not get the positions she wanted and as she had recently separated from her husband it was important financially and personally to regain her career.

Janis decided that she would need further qualifications and in 1990, when she was 35, she enrolled at the University of Central Lancashire in Preston to do a three year BA honours in fashion design.

"At first I was intimidated and found relaxing with my tutors difficult, but I quickly calmed down and settled in well. To be honest, after my initial nervousness, I found the workload fairly easy. After working and bringing up two kids it didn't seem too bad at all, plus I had done most of the type of work I was doing before - all the designing and pattern cutting that is - so I took to it well. I enjoyed doing essays because I had always enjoyed writing. Overall I wasn't worried about going back into education because I saw it as a means to an end."

One thing that the mature student faces when returning to higher education is the exposure to a different environment to that in which they may have spent a great deal of their adult lives.

"One thing that university certainly did do for me that I had not been expecting was make me realise that equality between the sexes does exist. Before going to college I had always been made to feel like a female rather than a person this didn't happen when I went to Preston and it was something that I really enjoyed. I felt that my personality developed a bit and I became more confident, more down to earth. Friends say I became a lot more stroppy."

One test to be faced by many that return to college is how they will cope having a young family and how this will affect their children, their work and their relationship with fellow students. Janis drove to and from the campus from her home and returned in the evening, doing much of her practical work at home .

"The studio was really cramped so it was probably beneficial for me to come home. I was able to get more work done more quickly. I did make friends and I am still in touch with some of them - occasionally I think I was guilty of mothering some of the other students.

"My kids loved it when I was studying. I think that they thought it was quite cool having a fashion designer student for a mum, anyway they got free clothes and naturally were always my models. They got to go to Paris to model for me and it also gave them a taste for student life which I was glad about because they've both gone to university themselves now.

"As for money, they never missed out. I had only been working in a poorly paid job before I went so I did not really notice the drop in income. Because I had two dependent children the grant was OK too. My dad gave us a hand with the rent which probably made life a lot easier."

Janis graduated with a 2.1 and her final collection was featured on the Clothes Show as part of Graduate Fashion Week. She is presently designing for Top Shop but has since returned to the same university to do a postgraduate certificate in education. She would ultimately like to return to the university where she studied to teach the fashion design course.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Susan Sarandon described David Bowie as
peopleSusan Sarandon reveals more on her David Bowie romance
Lewis Hamilton walks back to the pit lane with his Mercedes burning in the background
Formula 1
Arts and Entertainment
The new characters were announced yesterday at San Diego Comic Con
comic-con 2014
Arsenal supporters gather for a recent ‘fan party’ in New Jersey
Arts and Entertainment
No Devotion's Geoff Rickly and Stuart Richardson
musicReview: No Devotion, O2 Academy Islington, London
sportDidier Drogba returns to Chelsea on one-year deal
Arts and Entertainment
The Secret Cinema performance of Back to the Future has been cancelled again
newsComedy club forced to apologise as maggots eating a dead pigeon fall out of air-conditioning
Life and Style
Balmain's autumn/winter 2014 campaign, shot by Mario Sorrenti and featuring Binx Walton, Cara Delevingne, Jourdan Dunn, Ysaunny Brito, Issa Lish and Kayla Scott
fashionHow Olivier Rousteing is revitalising the house of Balmain
Arts and Entertainment
Christian Grey cradles Ana in the Fifty Shades of Grey film
filmFifty Shades of Grey trailer provokes moral outrage in US
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Education

Early Years Teachers Required

£21000 - £35000 per annum: Randstad Education Cambridge: Early Years Teachers ...

Geography Teacher

£85 - £140 per day: Randstad Education Cheshire: We require a teacher of Geogr...

Qualified Early Years Teachers Required

£21000 - £35000 per annum: Randstad Education Cambridge: Qualifed Early Years ...

Do you want to work in Education?

Negotiable: Randstad Education Cheshire: Are you a dynamic and energetic gradu...

Day In a Page

Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business, from Sarah Millican to Marcus Brigstocke

Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business

For all those wanting to know how stand-ups keep standing, here are some of the best moments
Jokes on Hollywood: 'With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on'

Jokes on Hollywood

With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on
Edinburgh Fringe 2014: The comedy highlights, from Bridget Christie to Jack Dee

Edinburgh Fringe 2014

The comedy highlights, from Bridget Christie to Jack Dee
Evan Davis: The BBC’s wolf in sheep’s clothing to take over at Newsnight

The BBC’s wolf in sheep’s clothing

What will Evan Davis be like on Newsnight?
Finding the names for America’s shame: What happens to the immigrants crossing the US-Mexico border without documents who never make it past the Arizona desert?

Finding the names for America’s shame

The immigrants crossing the US-Mexico border without documents who never make it past the Arizona desert
Inside a church for Born Again Christians: Speaking to God in a Manchester multiplex

Inside a church for Born Again Christians

As Britain's Anglican church struggles to establish its modern identity, one branch of Christianity is booming
Rihanna, Kim Kardashian and me: How Olivier Rousteing is revitalising the house of Balmain

Olivier Rousteing is revitalising the house of Balmain

Parisian couturier Pierre Balmain made his name dressing the mid-century jet set. Today, Olivier Rousteing – heir to the house Pierre built – is celebrating their 21st-century equivalents. The result? Nothing short of Balmania
Cancer, cardiac arrest, HIV and homelessness - and he's only 39

Incredible survival story of David Tovey

Tovey went from cooking for the Queen to rifling through bins for his supper. His is a startling story of endurance against the odds – and of a social safety net failing at every turn
Backhanders, bribery and abuses of power have soared in China as economy surges

Bribery and abuses of power soar in China

The bribery is fuelled by the surge in China's economy but the rules of corruption are subtle and unspoken, finds Evan Osnos, as he learns the dark arts from a master
Commonwealth Games 2014: Highland terriers stole the show at the opening ceremony

Highland terriers steal the show at opening ceremony

Gillian Orr explores why a dog loved by film stars and presidents is finally having its day
German art world rocked as artists use renowned fat sculpture to distil schnapps

Brewing the fat from artwork angers widow of sculptor

Part of Joseph Beuys' 1982 sculpture 'Fettecke' used to distil schnapps
BBC's The Secret History of Our Streets reveals a fascinating window into Britain's past

BBC takes viewers back down memory lane

The Secret History of Our Streets, which returns with three films looking at Scottish streets, is the inverse of Benefits Street - delivering warmth instead of cynicism
Joe, film review: Nicolas Cage delivers an astonishing performance in low budget drama

Nicolas Cage shines in low-budget drama Joe

Cage plays an ex-con in David Gordon Green's independent drama, which has been adapted from a novel by Larry Brown
How to make your own gourmet ice lollies, granitas, slushy cocktails and frozen yoghurt

Make your own ice lollies and frozen yoghurt

Think outside the cool box for this summer's tempting frozen treats
Ford Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time, with sales topping 4.1 million since 1976

Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time

Sales have topped 4.1 million since 1976. To celebrate this milestone, four Independent writers recall their Fiestas with pride