Helen Barnett

Now completing a PhD in Statistics and Operational Research with the STOR-i Centre for Doctoral Training, Helen Barnett’s interest in the subject was first kindled when she studied Mathematics and Statistics at undergraduate level at Lancaster. Her highly positive experience has led her to recommend the University to fellow applicants.

A friendly environment

Helen was immediately struck by the community atmosphere of the campus, the quality of the course and the friendly nature of our staff, leading her to be convinced that Lancaster was her ideal place to study. “I really liked the atmosphere when I came to visit the campus, and everyone was so friendly,” she says. “I liked the look of the course, and everyone I spoke to from the Department was really helpful.”

Helen was also impressed by Lancaster’s collegiate system upon her initial visit. We are one of only a handful of universities in the country to adopt a collegiate system, and each of our nine colleges has its own unique features, communities, and character. Helen felt that the collegiate system helped her to ease into university life, providing an effective bridge from her A Levels to degree level study. “I liked the collegiate system because it felt more personal than other universities, so not as big a step up from 6th Form,” she says.

Student support

The support that Lancaster University offers, both in terms of academic support and the general welfare of our students, also contributed to Helen’s positive experience studying here. “My tutors were always really helpful answering my questions in workshops, and the lecturers were always happy to help when I went to see them in their office hours,” she says. Helen also praised the support for student welfare that is available through the University colleges and student based services. “Each college has a support system, so if there are any welfare issues that are affecting your studies, they can help,” she says.” Although I never needed it, it was reassuring to know that the support was there.”

An engaging subject

After choosing medical statistics as a third year module, Helen chose to undertake a PhD in the subject. As well as giving her a passion for this area of statistics, it allowed her to develop skills that would prove invaluable when undertaking her PhD. “It showed me how we can use mathematics and statistics in practice to make real life decisions,” she says. “I use concepts I learnt in this module quite regularly.” These skills and concepts included the proficiency that Helen gained in statistical computer programs, which she has subsequently found highly useful during her PhD. “I used computer programs like R and MATLAB during my degree,” she says. “Although I found them hard to use at first, I now use R every day in my research with ease, so starting it early did help.”

A versatile degree

Although Helen isn’t yet certain where her career will take her, she is aware that her degree has given her a wide range of skills that are attractive to a variety of employers. “I haven’t chosen a profession yet, but studying at Lancaster has taught me lots of key skills that are useful in most professions: teamwork, time management and scientific writing,” she says.

Advice for applicants

When asked what advice she would give to potential applicants considering studying at Lancaster, Helen was quick to recommend the University. “Lancaster is a great place to study Mathematics and Statistics,” she says. “When deciding which university to study at, be sure to take a look around the campus, and look at the course itself. It’s 3 or 4 years of your life, so you need to be somewhere where you’ll be happy, and Lancaster is a great choice!”

Helen concludes: “I’ve had a great time studying the subject I love and have made friends for life -it has always felt like a home from home!”