Lancaster student's 14-hour dash from Germany to make graduation

When her flight from Germany to the UK was grounded, there was no other option for a Lancaster student who did not want to miss her university graduation after achieving a first-class honours degree.

By Debbie Butler
Wednesday, 27th July 2022, 12:24 pm

Rena Bijman, who lives in Dusseldorf, jumped in a car and made a 14-hour journey through the night to reach her ceremony taking place in Carlisle Cathedral the following morning, only 10 miles from the England-Scotland border.

Travelling more than 600 miles in total, Rena, driven by her boyfriend Julian Spelsberg, crossed Belgium and made it to the UK via the Channel Tunnel before heading to north west England – making it to Carlisle with minutes to spare.

Rena is among the latest cohort of students to complete degrees via the BachelorPlus programme, a partnership between Dusseldorf business school DAA Wirtschaftsakademie and the University of Cumbria.

Rena Bijman at her graduation.

DAA Wirtschaftsakademie students spend two years on a level four and five programme before relocating to the University of Cumbria’s campus in Lancaster to complete their final year, and achieve their BA (Hons) in International Business Management.

Rena, 24, said: “I had to be here, it is a once-in-a-lifetime experience. It has been a very hard process to get to this point, spending the first two years in your home city in your mother language and then switching to come to the UK, to study in England.

“The pandemic was also difficult. I caught Covid last October just as the first semester in Lancaster was starting. Trying to maintain long-distance relationships and all the restrictions and regulations when it comes to travelling were also challenging. When we started our bachelor thesis, our group all saw each other and did the work together, a union of students. We all made it through a tough time. I’m so happy that we did it and could be here for graduation.”

Dr Yvonne Klose, deputy head of DAA Wirtschaftsakademie, said: “The graduation ceremony is very special for us as we do not have anything like this in Germany; with the robes, the procession and all. =The ceremony is a once-in-a-lifetime experience for our students. My colleague and I were also struggling to get to Carlisle due to the train delays. The graduation was a very happy reunion in so many ways.”