Back on the lock-down series…
The downtime I have had during this lockdown period has allowed me to reflect and ponder on my life abroad. Given the opportunity to go back to A-Levels, would I do things differently? As an international student; was studying abroad the right decision for me?
I recently became a Unibuddy* Ambassador, a role that enables me to speak directly to prospective students and to answer their questions about student life. On this platform, I have also received a ton of questions from students wondering why I chose to study in the UK, and especially why I chose the University of Surrey.
When I began my research into where I wanted to further my education, I was just a Y11 student, but even then, I understood the gravity of this decision; what a great investment this was, not only financially but also towards my time (some may argue this is the most important investment!). At the time, I was not too sure what career I wanted to pursue, and so I chose A-Level subjects that in my eyes, were not too limiting to whatever field I would decide on. I chose to study the sciences. In my eyes, many courses did not require pre-requisite subjects anyway so I might as well stick to the subjects that I not only enjoyed but also offered a strong numerical and analytical foundation.
At the time, as a young IGCSE student from Kenya, I had not done much research, I could pick any place in the world to study… and that scared me. I made a list of my priorities which I have outlined below:
- Quality of Education
The UK has a reputation all around the world and is ranked highly amongst other countries because of the caliber of education offered. A simple check on university rankings worldwide will attest to this.
- Not only do they rank highly, but there are also a variety of courses available; this is especially important in this new and dynamic age of careers, the world is changing, and you have to change with it – lest you get left behind!
- Many people around the world are aware of the standard of education offered in the UK and so it is very likely you will be interacting with the best and the brightest people from all over the world drawn to the UK to further their studies.
This was the greatest factor in determining where I would study. What was the point of spending so much money if what I was paying for was not worth it anyway?
2. Rate of employability
Outside of gaining skills and the knowledge to advance yourself career-wise, the end goal of pursuing further education is usually to get a job. The UK is a great place to consider employability-wise due to the fact that you will not only be exposed to great companies (especially those with headquarters or offices in the UK) very early on, but these companies will also be attracted to you and your degree from a recognised and respected UK university.
- I cannot comfortably mention the rate of employability without highlighting that international students here are allowed to work-while-study. It is dependent on your visa, but on average, international students are allowed to work part-time, up to 20hrs a week! This is especially valuable to the student who wants to earn a little extra pocket-money during their study time.
- Placements and/or ‘Years in Industry’ are work-experience opportunities typically taken between your second and third years of undergraduate study and can be up to 12 months in length. They are designed to give you a competitive edge, giving you opportunities to test out a career path, become an industry-ready individual, and increase your employability potential… And, UK universities are known to offer these opportunities! The University of Surrey is especially well-known as it has won the award for the best University Work Placement Service two years in a row! Link to their service here… https://www.surrey.ac.uk/professional-training-placements
3. Student Life
Due to years of hosting students, some towns in the UK are essentially student-catered. This results in subsidized costs to a lot of utilities and services that are important to students.
- With so many students around, there is also a ‘community-feel’ (especially in campus universities like our very own University of Surrey), this means that you can always find help, someone to talk to, or just motivation because many services are student-friendly.
- Travel in the UK (and into greater Europe) is also very easy; hop on one train and you’re in London, another, and you’re in Manchester. This is attractive because you can visit famous tourist landmarks, have a taste of different cuisines, and attend famous festivals without even breaking a sweat. A great way to keep entertained during your studies.
In the end, I see that this was indeed a difficult decision then, and would indeed be a difficult decision for anyone else in the same position. I am, however, quite pleased with my decision and I would not change anything.
Hoping and praying that everyone remains safe during this time.
That’s all for now folks,
*The University of Surrey Ambassadors recently started working with Unibuddy -a peer to peer engagement tool that is housed on the University’s web pages. The tool enables Unibuddy Ambassadors to have profiles on the site as well as giving prospective students the opportunity to ask questions directly to those ambassadors.