Taking redundancy to pay for his A levels was the best decision Rob Higham ever made.
The man who chose an apprenticeship in favour of college managed to persuade his temporary German boss to finance his university project thesis to the tune of 10,000 euros.
Then he got other companies to shell out just as much so he could finish the job.
When Rob, from Frenchwood, Preston, left Lostock Hall High School at the age of 16 he went straight to work what was then British Aerospace to do a BTec and everyone who knew him was amazed when he quit this “secure future” for a job at a car dealership.
Looking back he says: “I wasn’t happy at BAe.
“Leaving was a big decision, especially for someone local and with it being such a big local employer. I took a bit of a chance but I always believed in myself I suppose.”
Rob signed up for a modern apprenticeship at a local BMW dealership where he trained to be a diagnostic technician but always felt he had “more to give.”
He took voluntary redundancy and went off to the University of Central Lancashire where he has never looked back.
Rob, 28, said: “I decided I wanted to go uni. I had decided on that a couple of times but this time took voluntary redundancy to cover the cost of A levels.
Now, after five years of hard studying, Rob has a first class honours degree in motor sport engineering.
He says: “I have had to work hard. Maybe harder than most because I didn’t have the traditional grounding.
“On my placement year I worked for the Airbus passenger check company. At the end of that year I then did a three month placement in Bremem in Northern Germany. I met my German boss when I worked for the UK variant and he offered me a contract for three months.
So, when I went to work there I told them about my final year project - my bachelor thesis - and they funded that.
“It cost them about 10,000 euros. They paid for all the samples.
“It was about how much metal corrodes, and how that reduces its life, so they funded the manufacturer of all the samples and then through ties that I had met I had all the materials donated, which was crazy money as well, so my thesis had to tie in with four companies, delivering them results and making sure that things follow their expectations.
“The Germans said I was crazy for doing it. They said it was much beyond bachelor level but, I did it and did well in it, so.......” Over the past few weeks Rob has been working as a teaching intern at Ashton Community Science College in Preston, a role he was always interested in.
He said: “It has been very good. It is a very fulfilling job.
“I’m going back to Airbus in September to go into carbon fibre work.”
He firmly believes that having years of experience in the world of work stood him in good stead at university , giving him the extra edge to drive him to succeed.