Students put on gowns and mortar boards to celebrate achieving university-level qualifications - at Uxbridge College. Students of all ages graduated in Higher National Certificates (HNCs) and Higher National Diplomas (HNDs) in business, computing, and engineering.

Higher Education qualifications improve career prospects and can also give graduates the option to enter university in the second or third years.

Those graduating at the ceremony on Wednesday 4 November included:

* Micha Brown (20), who graduated on the HND in Computing. Micha worked full time while studying, and has now entered a degree at the University of Greenwich in the third year on the basis of his achievements at Uxbridge College. His guests at the graduation ceremony were his sister Michaela and parents Reata and Ainsley Brown. Micha said: "I am really proud to be graduating. Balancing full time work and studying for the HND was pretty hard - sometimes I was doing assignments at midnight - but it is well worth it. I have had a lot of support from my family."

* Angad Osan (21), who graduated on the HND in Computing. Angad joined the HND course after taking AS levels and is now looking for a job in IT training. He is considering applying to enter a degree at Brunel University in the second year. Angad said: "I have been interested in computing since I was five or six years old, when I played the early DOS computer games such as the Prince of Persia. I would definitely recommend the course - it's a must for anyone who is going into computer science. I looked at quite a few colleges and this was the only one that offered what I wanted in Computing."

* Neil Weston (35), who graduated on the HNC in Business. Neil has been using his business skills to take over running the family business, OCW garage, in Perivale, Ealing, from his father Michael, age 60. He has also now started a degree in Business and Management at the University of Westminster in the third year. Neil said: "The teaching was very professional at Uxbridge College which was what I wanted. When we needed help, we got help - I can't say enough good words about the teachers. The course gives you a good range of skills including writing and presenting. It's nice to have the confidence now to stand up in front of people and present. It's hard work - a lot of sacrifices had to be made to do this course, but it was worth it. What I have learned has been really useful in running the family business. I would recommend the course to anybody."

* Sabiha Eid Rashed, who graduated on the HND in Computing. Sabiha took the HND course after she completed an access course for the subject, also at Uxbridge College. She is now looking for a job and considering applying to Westminster University to start a degree in the third year. During her time at Uxbridge College she did work experience on an IT helpdesk. Sabiha said: "The work experience really helped and I think the course is really good. The teachers really encourage the students, and are very helpful and kind."

Speaking at the ceremony at Brunel University, Laraine Smith, Principal of Uxbridge College, said: "Uxbridge College's Higher Education ceremony is important because it recognises what a huge achievement it is to succeed at this level.

"Many of our higher education students have progressed on to their courses because they gained skills at work - others will have progressed through study.

"Higher Education graduates can expect a number of benefits - one of which is that you are likely to be better off financially. According to a report by Universities UK, the average lifetime earnings of a graduate equated to around £160,000 more than those of a non-graduate with two A-levels.

"Congratulations to all of you - it is a privilege to be here today to witness your success."

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