Passion for a subject should be just as important as chances of future employment, says UCAS chief

Written by: Pete Henshaw | Published:

Students’ passion for their subject should be as important a consideration as future employment prospects when it comes to picking university courses.

That is the view of UCAS chief Mary Curnock Cook who last week launched the university admissions service’s annual Love Learning challenge.

The competition offers two £3,000 prizes to students who can best inspire the next generation to study their own subject, either by writing a 500-word essay or creating a short video. There are six runner-up prizes of £1,000 each – three in each category.

“Success in higher education needs motivation and deep engagement with the material you are studying,” said Ms Curnock Cook.

“This competition passes the microphone to current students to articulate the profound and life-defining experience of higher education. 

“Each year, reading the entries reminds me anew of the richness of the higher education experience, which has value for students far beyond the course content. 

“The learning that comes from living independently, the shared energy that is generated among students from diverse backgrounds, and the self-confidence gained from independent study are the benefits that this competition reveals in full technicolour.”

The competition attracted a total of 2,500 entries last year. The essay winner was Molly Case, a third-year adult nursing student at the University of Greenwich, who wrote: “I have been able to support people in their most vulnerable times, a woman spending her last night in a hospital bed who would never see her daughter’s wedding day, her first grandchild being born, whose never-ending family visited throughout the night to help her through the awful pain of it.”

The 2014 video winner was James Montgomery, who made a 30-second video about studying for a computer science degree at the University of St Andrews.

For details of how to enter this year’s competition go to


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