Simon Hindle did not really want to do his A levels first time round, so he was not particularly surprised when he failed all three. Being pushed by his parents to do resits was even worse and he flunked them a second time. Four years later he was still working for the same double-glazing firm and going nowhere.
An offer of a place on an engineering foundation course changed everything. This summer Mr Hindle, 28, graduated with first-class honours from Lincolnshire and Humberside University and he is now embarking on a masters degree.
Derek Crothall, pro vice-chancellor at Humberside, said: "The foundation course is not intended as a back door for getting failed students in to fill up courses. These courses have had a very bad press, but they are a way of offering students a second chance. And they do not guarantee admission to a degree."
Mr Hindle is equally positive: "The foundation course is simply a way of showing the university whether you are able to progress to a degree course," he said. "Only about half of my fellow students went on to degree study and we worked hard for it."
His efforts did not go unnoticed and Mr Hindle was awarded the Barclays Bank prize for the best second-year student. "I couldn't believe it but it really proves that if you are willing to work, goals are achievable," he said. "It was hard, but you have to be able to ask for help. You get out of it what you put in."
Mr Hindle worked in the university at least 40 hours a week and had an evening job as well.
He is now working at an engineering firm as a project manager. Getting a first-class degree was, he said, the icing on the cake.