Applying for International Placement at FHMS Partner Laboratories

Hello, everyone! Results for semester one has come out, and I know people are scattered on the ‘happy’ to ‘disappointed’ spectrum. My results? That’s a secret. Though I must say that although there was a massive increase in workload for year 2, it is still manageable and I know you all can get through it!

Anyway, since I’m in year 2, I have the option of undergoing a Professional Training Year, where you are basically doing professional work related to your course (or not) for a year between the second and final year of your degree. Of course, the choice is entirely up to you. However, if you are a Malaysian who is planning to go for a placement, please make sure you have the appropriate number of years of study for your visa. If you only have a 3-year study visa and want to do a placement, fret not! You can still apply to have an extension, but keep in mind that you should do this relatively early before your placement.

Of course, like other courses, you can apply to placements in local companies. Some examples of companies that are highly sought after in the bioscience industry would be GSK, Pfizer, Unilever, etc. The great thing about studying a course under the Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences (FHMS) department is that FHMS students have the option to undertake an international laboratory placement. In this case, the university has partnered with many laboratories, universities, and institutes all over the world (and I do mean all over the world), to provide opportunities for students to be placed and work internationally for the year. The partnerships between the university and the laboratories also mean that it is not as highly competitive as it would be if you were to apply to a local company with every bioscience student in the UK applying for a place. Of course, the deal is that you would be placed internationally and would probably not be able to get a paid placement (though some international lab placements are!). The placement team at the University of Surrey work their absolute best to try and place everyone in their preferred placements.

As I have always loved Japan, I personally applied to the two placements available in Japan which are in Okayama University in Okayama and the RIKEN Institute in Tokyo. I preferred to be placed in Okayama University because it had such a wide range of studies to choose from, albeit the location is a little out in the countryside. What interested me was their study on drugs on models of Parkinson’s disease, though they did have research in other disciplines. Mind you, I applied for the international placement slightly after New Year’s. I got an update a week after applying that I have been put under consideration and that I can choose which disciplines I would like to be placed in order of preference! However, some people may be informed about their placement a little later, so don’t panic if you have to wait a little longer.

For those thinking who are thinking of applying to placements in FHMS Partner Laboratories for the next year (or the coming years), there will be plenty of briefings about placements (usually scheduled as ‘tutorials’) in your second year. They will explain it all in detail, as well as list the available placements for you to apply to. The list of available placements this year may be different than the coming years. There are so many different locations, and the full list would usually be available for you to see on the University of Surrey MoveON Surrey portal website after the briefings. This is also where you would start your application for the placements once the form opens.

Of course, there are financial implications associated with undergoing an international placement, but it is a good idea to keep it in mind regardless. If I am not mistaken, many placements available in the United States of America are paid placements which may or may not be able to cover cost of living depending on where the placement is. For example, the placement in Weill Cornell Medical School of Cornell University is paid, but it is located in New York which typically has a very high cost of living. Regardless, in your application, you need to complete a budget form by researching the cost of living in that area and calculate if you are financially able to undergo the placement. This will be explained more in detail during the briefings, of course.

If you have any questions about international placements at all, I would highly suggest you consult any of the FHMS placement advisors (they will give the briefings in your second year) about it as they would have the most knowledge and experience in the field of bioscience and they would be able to tackle any questions you have about FHMS partner laboratories.
So, that’s my update for this week and it’s been quite a ride. See y’all next week!