Study, work, life: the University model that works for you

If you’re thinking about going back to uni, but feel more like an old-timer than a first-timer, our Block Model will work for you.

Whether you’re juggling the manic morning drop-off, a demanding job or an amateur sporting career, the VU Block Model fits in with what you’ve got going on outside of uni.

We spoke to three students just like you, who returned to uni in 2018 to pursue their passions. They’re all parents and partners, from different walks of life. But one thing they have in common is they’re making it work ­– thanks to the Block Model.

Educator extraordinaire

Asmahan Ellilly, 24, Bachelor of Education Studies

Asmahan, how have you found returning to study so far, under the VU Block Model?

My first few weeks of uni have been amazing. I’ve been out of school for eight years now, so I was expecting it to be pretty overwhelming. But with the Block Model it hasn’t been overwhelming at all. This is a completely new chapter for me since getting married and having children.

What keeps you motivated?

I only have to be at uni three days a week. And I can do the rest of the work at home with my kids. They’re watching me do my work so I like to think I’m encouraging them to value their education. The Block Model has allowed me to take time to be at home, and time to go to work and provide for my family. It’s so well organised, it also allows me to have a bit of time to myself too.

What’s it like in the classroom?

When you walk into the classroom, it’s all familiar faces. Out teacher is so great, explains everything so well. With the same people in every class, it’s been really easy to make friends, which I was worried about as a mature-age student. The time just flies because we’re so engaged, we don’t even look at the clock.

Engineer of the future

Geoff Barnes, 39, Bachelor of Engineering (Honours) (Mechanical Engineering)

Geoff, you are in the unique position of being able to compare the traditional study model (as you started part-time in 2017) to the Block Model this year. What are the differences?

Block Model allows me to complete my degree full time while I’m working. Last year I studied in the traditional mode after 21 years in the work force and it was hard to stay focused. It feels much more comfortable concentrating on one unit at a time.

Another big plus is the extra support available from the student mentors and peers in the Learning Hub and the library.

How are you managing your studies with work and other commitments?

It’s a juggle with my time working and studying and being a dad and husband, but I believe I’m being a good role model for my kids (aged 6 and 4). I hope seeing me studying gives them a work ethic and belief in themselves when they go through school. I couldn’t do this without my wife’s support – she also works part-time.

Why did you choose your course?

As a sheet metal worker, I have been in an engineering environment throughout my career, so it was a natural selection and career progression. I’m currently employed by Patrick Terminals ESD as a Stores and Purchasing Officer in the Maintenance department.

Health & fitness guru

Fatma Abdou, 27, Bachelor of Exercise Science (Clinical Practice)

Fatma, how were you feeling before you started, and now after a few weeks?

I was stressed before I began, but I’m so happy to be studying in the Block Model – I feel privileged to part of it. Just being accepted into my course was so exciting for me. I love that I can pursue a career that I really love. I was a stay-at-home mum of three – and now I’m ready to focus on myself, but I love that I can still be around for my kids.

How has the Block Model helped you stay organised?

As you can imagine, with three children, I have a really busy schedule. But with the Block Model, I focus on one subject while at uni, and have time for my children when at home. I can be really organised – I have three-hour classes three times a week. So I’ve been able to balance my busy life. I can come to the gym in the morning and then I come to class. I finish in time to pick my kids up from school so everyone’s happy.

Do you feel like you’re getting enough support in class?

The classes are small, so if you need one-one-one attention, you can get it without having to wait. Getting to know my classmates has been easier too. I thought, “I’m just going to come to uni and focus on my studies, I’m not going to have time to be sociable,” but as soon as I got into my class I made friends; it’s been fun.

Our Block Model

VU’s Block Model lets you focus on one unit at a time. You complete one unit over four weeks, as opposed to four units at once over a 16-week semester.

Since you’re focusing on one unit at a time, you’re only on campus for three hours, three days a week. So you are guaranteed two full days, plus three half days free – to work, parent, study or chill.


Writer:  Jessica Jury