Robert Young, International Student Support Advisor, talks about his role at Surrey and his Erasmus mobility trip to Valencia.

Robert Young 1

I have spent my professional life working in the education sector, both across HE and FE. After moving to Surrey in 2010, the University of Surrey was always where I imagined myself ending up and where I wanted to continue my career. I finally got my chance to join the University in 2014 in the Admissions department, working largely with FEPS applicants. After a year in post, I moved to my current role in the Student Services Centre as an International Student Support Advisor. My role largely revolves around providing visa and immigration advice as we are the only team at the University who are permitted to advise in this area under OISC guidelines. This includes pre-departure advice for applicants to the University, and ongoing visa support throughout a student’s life cycle as well as hosting various events throughout the year. The most rewarding aspect of my role is when we receive a student’s visa in the post; there’s nothing more rewarding than being able to hand the visa over to a grateful student to allow them to stay here in the UK and at Surrey to continue to achieve their ambitions.

Having decided upon an Erasmus trip, I set about choosing where best to go. From the choices that were open to me, the Universitat Politechnica de Valencia felt like the best choice for me – its targets for the week matched my own personal objectives within my team perfectly, allowing me to build a strong case to my manager for my attending. On a personal level, I had never visited Spain either so it felt like a win-win situation! It was important to me that the trip was beneficial not just on a purely professional level but also on a personal one too, so it felt like an adventure that would challenge me on lots of different levels as well, especially having never travelled abroad by myself before.

It is difficult to choose a highlight as the week gave me so many new experiences and chances to meet new people. The city of Valencia is beautiful and the culture is infectious! Adjusting back to the UK way of things after visiting Spain was certainly a challenge! For me though, what I took away from the week the most was a broader and more developed sense of self. As cliché as it sounds meeting so many people from across Europe, sharing professional skills, discovering leadership abilities, and just having a great time has really broadened my horizons. It’s an experience that I am very proud of and would encourage anyone to try!

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