21 December 2007
The rising costs of student life may prevent some youngsters from going to university to get the qualifications they need to fulfil their full career potential. However, with the introduction of funded university schemes like those offered by the Ministry of Defence (MoD), more students each year are choosing this option. They finish university with the same qualifications as self-funding students and because they will join the military after graduation, don’t have to think about looking for a job in their all-important final year.
Georgina Kemp is a second year Biochemistry student at Aston University and is on the Ministry of Defence’s Defence Technical Undergraduate Scheme (DTUS).
What made you join the DTUS scheme and focus on gaining a career in the military?
'At school I always wanted to go on to study at university, but the expense prevented my parents being able to afford to send me. My Dad suggested looking into what the military could offer. It was then that I decided to join the Army but as an officer. After having an amazing work experience placement with the Army at Worthy Down in Winchester, they told me about the DTUS.'
What are main the benefits of gaining a degree through the DTUS?
'A great incentive for joining is that we receive a bursary and a lot of support from the people involved in the Scheme. When we finish our degree we also have direct entry into Dartmouth, Sandhurst or Cranwell to train as Officers. Gaining a degree through the DTUS has given me the opportunity to gain many experiences and earn additional money through training days.'
Do you have duties to the Army whilst studying at University?
'Every Thursday night is drill night. This involves a range of activities mainly focusing on leadership and teamwork, but also covering general military knowledge and skills. However, it’s not all military skills as you may think – Dartmouth, Sandhurst and Cranwell prefer to start our officer training from a ‘clean slate’.
Weekends often involve exercises and other planned activities, and during the university holidays we have the chance to go along to our ‘fostered corps’ (or other corps if we wish) to carry out adventurous training and courses. We get paid for all the activities we participate in.
Once you have completed your degree and gone through to Dartmouth, Sandhurst or Cranwell there is a three-year return of service, then you can leave if you so wish.'
Do you have to be a particular type of person for the DTUS Scheme?
'As the scheme is developed for officers in the RAF, Army, Royal Navy and Civil Service, you have to be motivated, outgoing and intelligent. The DTUS is for technical officer jobs so you also have to be technically minded.'
How does the DTUS work?
'It is a requirement to get Bs or above in Maths, Science and English at GCSE level. You are required to undergo a series of interviews and medicals, and if the panel think you are suitable for the Scheme, you are sent to Welbeck Defence Sixth Form College (near Loughborough) to study A levels in either Maths, Physics, Biology, Chemistry, Geography, IT, Business, Electronics or some other technical A level. The next stage is to go to a selected university to do a technical degree. Whilst at university, Army sponsored students can join a corps such as the Royal Engineers, Royal Signals, REME (Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers), or the Royal Logistic Corps. At the end of your degree you are then ready to start military training. If you’re prepared to commit to a career in the military then it is also possible to join the Scheme whilst at university.
While at University, all sponsored students belongs to a Support Unit which is responsible for our administration, mentorship as well as leadership and personal development while maintaining our interest in our chosen Service. The Support Unit for Aston University is Taurus Squadron, which is well placed at HMS Forward, a short distance from the main campus.'
Have you got any top tips for those thinking of joining the scheme?
'It is important that you research the specific jobs you would like to do in the Royal Navy, Army, RAF or Civil Service before joining up to the scheme. Try and go on work experience if possible. You need to know that you definitely want to join the military because once you start the scheme there is no going back without paying a lot of money to leave. You are required to serve a minimum of three years return of service.'
What would you say to girls who are put off by the stereotypical masculine images of the Army?
'There is currently about a four to one ratio of guys to girls in the Army, but the amount of girls joining is increasing each year. There are some very successful girls in the Army and many great jobs to choose from. If you put 100 per cent into everything you gain the respect of the guys, they are all willing to help the girl if she’s willing to help herself.'
Originally from West Sussex, and not from a military background, Georgina has clearly not looked back since joining the DTUS scheme. She told Aspects that she ‘loves her degree’ and upon finishing the DTUS scheme she plans to put her Biochemistry BSc into practice, becoming an Explosive Ordnance Disposal Officer in the Army.
If you would like to know more about the DTUS at Aston please visit http://www.seas.aston.ac.uk/undergraduate/dtus/
For further press information please contact Hannah Brookes on 0121 204 4549