Back to School
After my trip to South East Asia, and then a holiday at home, I can empathise with the students all preparing to go back to school right now. I left for Malaysia on 16th July, and just returned to work last week – a whole month later – thankfully my little desk cactus survived my absence!
The South East Asia trip was a busy one. I travelled with three colleagues to Kuala Lumpur, Johor Bahru and Singapore over the course of nine days, and together we presented the best of our Faculty and its courses to education agents, counsellors, teachers and students. It was my first visit to those countries, and I learned a lot in a short space of time. For example, how subjects like Chemical Engineering are especially popular in Malaysia due to its huge oil and gas industry, and the employment opportunities to be found with global companies like Petronas and Shell. Or how all young Singaporean men must complete two years of National Service, and since this is normally undertaken immediately before higher education, international universities have to think outside the box to advertise to them! It was all really fascinating, and of course I used my free time to try and explore and understand these cultures a little more. But that’s the thing; I discovered both countries are wonderful pot lucks of cultural diversity – one night in Singapore was spent walking around Little India, and another was spent in Chinatown! Everything, from the delicious food on offer to billboard advertisements, celebrated a range of heritages and faiths, and it was lovely to see.
After a holiday of rest and relaxation visiting my family in Scotland, I came back to reality for an important moment for UK students: A level results! I was part of QUB’s UCAS Clearing Call Centre which allows students, who haven’t received the grades they needed for their intended course, explore opportunities at other institutions. Although it can be a very stressful time for those students, it does play a part in the recruitment cycle for universities across the UK, as plans change and new doors open. It was interesting for me to step into domestic shoes for a few days; while I’m accustomed to international applicants asking questions about university rankings and facilities, UK students tend to be focussed on the subject they wish to pursue, with less concern about where they study it.
Moving forward, everyone at QUB is now in full planning mode for the academic year ahead. Personally, I’ll be meeting with our central marketing teams to establish content and travel schedules, our international ambassadors to brainstorm new activities, and our new international arrivals to give them a warm welcome to the EPS Faculty!
Good luck to everyone starting a new academic year,