How I furthered my skills at UWE Bristol

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By Soleiman, MSc Façade Engineering

UWE Bristol student, Soleiman, tells us about his experience as a mature international student living in Bristol. He shares the factors that influenced his decision to study a master’s degree, the impact it will have on his career prospects, and what his scholarship meant to him.

Why I decided to undertake a master’s degree

I think that before selecting a master’s degree, it’s important to do your research, study the curriculum, and choose the right course for you. It’s also very important to think about your future career or further education and how the course will help you get there.

“With my background in engineering, I knew I wanted to undertake a master’s to upskill and increase my career prospects.”

I had researched the Master’s in Façade Engineering around the world, and through Google found that UWE Bristol’s course is unique and offers benefits that others don’t. The collaboration with the Centre for Window and Cladding Technology (CWCT) was a huge benefit, and I had seen publications from the lecturer delivering the course before I applied. This convinced me that UWE Bristol was the best choice for me and my career.

My scholarship

I was very happy to receive my scholarship as it meant I was able to finance my degree. My decision to come to UWE Bristol was based on the content of the course and the opportunities it could provide, but the scholarship was a helpful deciding factor as my income was a barrier once my country’s currency was converted to pounds.

My experience of UWE Bristol

Overall, I’m very satisfied with the course, including the content. The volume and depth of content, and the variety of modules provided useful and relevant information that I can apply to future projects. Most of the learning is gained through lectures and presentations.

“Industry experts often presented to my class and would bring in samples to give us a feel for materials and design, which will also be very useful going forward.”

The online facilities and services are very user-friendly, and an added benefit is the access to recordings of lectures and presentations, particularly for me as I moved myself and my young family to the UK from Iran.

I received support from UWE Bristol right from the start. I had some issues processing my visa, but the Confirmation for Acceptance of Studies (CAS) team and the Admissions team were really helpful in getting that resolved and getting me started.

Career impact

I’d been working in the engineering sector for 14 years and wanted the master’s degree to enhance this knowledge and make myself more desirable for world-leading façade engineering companies around the globe.

The course taught me more than I had expected and made me feel much more career-ready. As well as building upon the skills and experience I’d already developed in my career, I found the process of writing technically a real learning-curve.

This was especially true when writing for contractors, employers and architects, as this was something I hadn’t previously practised. I’ve also became more familiar with industry standards – a skill that will benefit me for the rest of my career.

How I moved from Nigeria to UWE Bristol

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By Adewale, MSc Engineering Management

UWE Bristol student, Adewale, tells us of his experience as a mature international student living in Bristol. He shares the factors that influenced his decision to move to the UK and study at UWE Bristol, the impact his degree will have on his career prospects and what his scholarship meant to him.

Why I chose UWE Bristol

It’s been a lifetime dream of mine to study in the UK. A former engineering colleague graduated through UWE Bristol and I’ve always respected his work ethic, conduct and professionalism. He also gave me some experiences of what it’s like to study here which helped me pick UWE Bristol.

I was able to fund my place on the MSc Engineering Management course after receiving the Commonwealth Shared Scholarship. It was a crucial factor for me to receive my scholarship as I’d been trying to study at UWE Bristol for the last three years but couldn’t afford it. I couldn’t have come here without the scholarship, so it has undoubtedly changed my life.

“Now I’m here I can see that UWE Bristol makes sure that the needs of everyone are met – no one is left out. The facilities are fantastic too; I’ve mostly used the 24/7 library and the Information Point on campus when I’ve needed support. The lecturers are all supportive and always answer any questions we have.”

Studying here has also improved my communication skills, particularly in the group sessions where we work with lots of other students from different cultures. I’ve also received emails from the Global Centre telling me about things I can get involved with, so I’ve never been short of exciting opportunities.

Studying in the UK

I’m really enjoying my course, especially the mode of delivery which allows lots of interaction with other colleagues. The other students on my course are from lots of different backgrounds. It’s good getting to know them and their different cultures, which is also beneficial when working on group case studies.

In my home country the mode of delivery is very different. You work individually so there’s no group work or discussions, no sharing experiences or case studies – you’re expected to work on your own. I get a lot more support from my colleagues and lecturers here and I’m able to share experiences and learn from other people’s views. The way of learning here is much better for me.

The industry connections in the UK, particularly in Bristol, are a huge plus too. I’ve learnt about the high performing companies within the UK and how they evolved to where they are today. You definitely feel like you’re gaining practical experience while you’re here.”

And Bristol is great in general – it’s a very calm, multicultural city and also very secure. Everyone has been friendly and the city is beautiful.

Being a mature student

As an engineer, I hope my course will help me to progress up the managerial ladder within engineering. I’ve gained a better understanding of industry costs, and what the responsibilities and challenges of an Engineering Manager should be, including the scope of their work.  Also, information on how engineering differs in developed and developing countries has been particularly useful to me as an international student.

My advice for other international students

I have three key pieces of advice for prospective international students:

  • Be prepared for your learning and you’ll receive the right support. You cannot expect to come here and just do what you like.
  • You get a lot of emails from UWE Bristol about the support you can get as an international student. Make sure you check your emails regularly and read them thoroughly to maximise your time here.
  • Keep an open mind, adapt to the new culture and the new knowledge this will bring.

How my degree enabled me to build a car

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By Abdul-Azeez, BEng Aerospace Engineering

UWE Bristol graduate, Abdul-Azeez, tells us about his experience as a visually impaired, international student studying Aerospace Engineering in the UK. He shares what influenced his decision to study at UWE Bristol, the support he received, and how his degree enabled him to build a car.

Studying in Bristol

I always knew I wanted to study in the UK. Universities here have mastered the art of teaching while encouraging independent thinking. They point you in the right direction so you can conduct your own research, with a healthy balance between theoretical and practical teaching. There’s a perfect balance of academic experiences, and non-academic experiences. A lot of focus is put on lifestyle too, and you’re encouraged to take part in sports and other extra-curricular activities.

“The decision to choose UWE Bristol was a relatively easy one for me. I knew of the industrial links that Bristol had – that I’d be in a city where I could immerse myself in aerospace engineering beyond the equations. There were career fairs, field trips, placements – endless opportunities to expand my prospects.”

UWE Bristol really leverage their industrial links and create space for their students within these opportunities. It provided a huge learning experience, particularly for engineering students where theoretical knowledge is strengthened through industry insight.

There was also a huge cluster of international students which made me feel at home – even on my course there were other Nigerians, so at no point did I feel alone. The lecturers were also from all around the globe, which gave the feeling of world-class teaching.

As for Bristol, my first impression was that it’s such a great city to just ‘be’ in regardless of being a student. There’s lots to explore, a huge history and huge atmosphere around it. Plus, the people are so welcoming, and UWE Bristol as a base provides a safe space; a ‘home away from home’.

Studying abroad with a visual impairment

My experience of going to university as a visually impaired student couldn’t have been handled better than it was at UWE Bristol. The support I received was fantastic from the very start. My experience began with a meeting with the Disability Service, my lecturers and teaching staff, and my family. This helped us to flesh out the course together and plan what I’d need so I was ready to face everything the course would throw my way.

UWE Bristol made sure I’d understand and be able to take part in everything, adapting the course programme to suit my particular needs. I experienced first-hand how they shaped the course to a student, not vice versa – everything felt tailor-made.

“My biggest passion is being able to live a full and functional life with my disability, to get involved with any sporting activity, and whichever profession I want. UWE Bristol really fed into that; they made adjustments throughout the entire experience, so all opportunities were available to me.”

Support is embedded in the culture at UWE Bristol; everyone I worked with showed enthusiasm and wanted to face every challenge head on, while coming together to ensure everyone felt positive about their studies.

My pandemic project – building a car

In 2020 when faced with a global pandemic and a potentially limitless period of isolation, I decided to use the engineering skills I’d learned at UWE Bristol to start on a project of my own; a project that I had long dreamed about. I was going to build a car.

Although a scary prospect, I decided to go for it.

“Without the encouragement I had at UWE Bristol, I wouldn’t have had an ounce of the confidence I needed to take the project on.”

UWE Bristol teaches you to aim high. In our third year we each conducted an individual project – I chose to build an aircraft. I found that you don’t know how much strength and drive you have until you try something new. The experience changed my mindset, and I was awarded best individual project by the university. This gave me such a confident boost that I knew I could apply my knowledge and tackle the build of a car.

How UWE Bristol changed my life

I always wanted to work in aviation, so earning a degree in Aerospace Engineering was something I’d aspired to for years. Completing my degree solidified this plan – it confirmed that aviation was my calling and narrowed my field of interest by highlighting the aspects I most enjoyed.

UWE Bristol prepared me for my career, giving me analytical, project management and problem-solving skills to assist with theory as well as the practical skills that formed the building blocks of my studies. Putting the theory into practice taught me how to apply my knowledge of aerospace engineering principles to other avenues, opening a multitude of industry doors for me to consider.

“There’s a real collaborative spirit at UWE Bristol. They support students in exploring the best of their potential, making them feel excited to learn.”

They encouraged us to make ourselves at home and allowed us to discover as much as we wanted to. We could go at our own pace and were given all the resources for personal development – the choice was ours to take. It’s a younger university, so there’s an abundance of fresh ideas and teaching staff aren’t afraid to do things differently.

“Seeing how the university has grown over the years and at such a fast pace has been a positive experience – any student would benefit by studying here and I’m proud to be a UWE Bristol graduate.”

How I followed my passion for filmmaking

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By Emi, MA Wildlife Filmmaking

UWE Bristol student, Emi, tells us about her experience as an international student studying Wildlife Filmmaking in the UK. She shares what influenced her decision to change career, how she found the course, and the advice she’d give to prospective students.

Finding a new career path

My background is in communications and audio-visual production. I’d made a few films here in Costa Rica, but nothing related to wildlife filmmaking. Costa Rica is a wonderful country that’s full of wildlife so for me it felt a natural fit to pursue this course. I knew it’d be a good opportunity for me. In Costa Rica there aren’t many production companies dedicated to wildlife filmmaking. I could see it would benefit me, and my home country, to bring this knowledge back home with me.

I’m a producer and photographer by trade and in 2021 I became a National Geographic Explorer (NGE). It’s been a long journey to get where I am now and there’s been many challenges. Firstly, knowing this is what I want to do. There was some uncertainty for a while, and a lack of confidence, so it took a few years to build myself up and make the decision. Self-confidence was a challenge and one of the major elements for me to overcome.

“In this industry, you can’t do things alone. You need the expertise of different people, so it’s important to surround yourself with like-minded creative individuals. You can achieve so much more by working together and sharing your knowledge. It means you get to develop and gain new skills too.

The Wildlife Filmmaking course and its partnerships

For me, the course came first. I always wanted to study abroad, but I didn’t know where until I discovered the course at UWE Bristol. After doing some research, I learned that Bristol is home to some of the biggest production companies out there, like the BBC Natural History Studios. And as the course had amazing industry connections, I was sold on this course.

The course is divided into theoretical and technical aspects, with lectures on how the film industry works, alongside more logistical aspects that are specific to wildlife filmmaking. This combination, whether you’re a photographer or a filmmaker, is very common in the creative industries.

The lecturers are so experienced, as they’re all actively working in the industry and have been for years. Gaining the knowledge from them first-hand makes a massive difference when breaking into this competitive industry. Developing my expertise directly from industry specialists has been vital when joining with a different skillset. Also, the equipment we have access to is top-notch. The cameras, lighting, microphones – the tech is amazing, and that’s made a massive difference to my storytelling.

The partnership the course has with the BBC is incredible because we hear from industry practitioners. They share how they’re discovering amazing new methods of storytelling. How they’re trying to break boundaries, using technical cameras and new practices, to achieve impressive visuals that we never thought possible.

The course has honed my existing skills. I’ve become more intuitive and have benefited when learning from others, which I’ve enjoyed. It’s an amazing opportunity as this is an industry-renowned course, which opens doors for you in a very competitive field. It’s also helping me to build my network with relevant industry bodies and these connections will be useful when developing content in the future in Costa Rica.

Future aspirations

My plan when I graduate is to return to Costa Rica and develop a few films there that I already have in mind. While I’m in the UK, I’ll continue to build on my connections with different companies here and hopefully collaborate with them on my films in Costa Rica.

My aim is to continue to build and nurture the relationships I’ve formed with colleagues and industry professionals, so I can work with them again in the future.

My advice for international students

I regret not applying for the course sooner and thinking it was only relevant for experienced filmmakers. I didn’t realise the other skills I had were relevant to the production industry, but they really are, and you pick up everything else you need on the course. Any other technical skills that I didn’t have before, I’ve gained at UWE Bristol.

And don’t be afraid to study abroad. You’ll gain so much by studying with students from other countries and backgrounds, as well as appreciating the difference in nature between our countries – it’s been very insightful.

“It feels like a dream come true, and I was initially holding myself back from going for it. I wondered if I could I really do this and be successful. The answer is to just go for it. Even if it doesn’t happen this year, don’t give up on your dream. Like me, you may just surprise yourself.

How Sebastian found life in Bristol as an international student.

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By Sebastian, MSc Sustainable Development in Practice.

UWE Bristol student, Sebastian, tells us of his experience as an international student living in Bristol. He shares the factors that influenced his decision to move to the UK, how he found Bristol, and the advice he’d give to other international students.

Why I chose to study in the UK

It’s always been a dream of mine to study for a master’s degree. And I wanted to do this in a high-quality country. I already had the language from my time living in Australia, and I thought that the UK would provide me with a high-quality education. So, it was a mix; and finding the mix I was looking for. I really wanted to be involved in a different culture – to learn from other people.

“Learning in a different language and the way you express yourself on paper is a challenge, and it’s something I’ve been very keen to improve on. The great thing is, I can see from the grades in my modules so far that I am improving which is great.

The teaching style is also different here, very student focus orientated. You’re responsible for coming to class having completed the pre-reading – with classes being an opportunity to expand on your knowledge and the concepts. You need to develop this knowledge – go to the class and have a deeper understanding of the concept. Here, most of my grades are from assessment at the end of the module. This is different to how you’re assessed in Columbia.

These were my main reasons to choose the UK, and of course also the excellent facilities that the UK/Bristol brings to students.

Why I chose to study at UWE Bristol

My course has really given me another perspective over sustainable development. England is one of the most developed countries in the world. Other countries learn from England and adapt for the future. Here, you get to see first-hand new technology and processes and how these are implemented.

I’ve found the teaching at UWE Bristol suits me well. It’s all about putting what I’ve learnt into practice and developing skills in the work field. It’s one of the reasons I chose to study here. I knew this course included practical assessment across all my modules, all of which include work-based learning. I think this will serve me well when I start to look for employment as I can use this knowledge and experience from my course.

I also like the focus UWE Bristol has on student life and connecting with others. In class we’re asked to sit with someone who isn’t from your home country. This has really helped as I’ve got to know my classmates and its’s made me be braver and interact with people I might not have before.

The benefits of UWE Bristol aren’t just the course, however. The city of Bristol is a fantastic base for international students. I found similarities from having lived in Melbourne and then coming to the UK to Bristol. They’re both spectacular cities. There are many synergies such as the vibrant graffiti – I’ve really enjoyed walking around Bristol and spotting all the Banksy artwork.

“Bristol is the perfect size. It has everything you need and is very compact. You can always find something to do, you’ll never get bored because there’s so much going on.

If you like music, Bristol is great for gigs, and there’s some great green spaces and parks. I like that the city isn’t big like London and Manchester. The public transport is good as well. Buses function as well as anywhere I’ve lived. Security is also important for me, and I’ve had no problem with not feeling safe.

Tips for other international students

Apply for a scholarship: Receiving the scholarship was the real decision maker for me in coming to UWE Bristol to do my master’s. I made the decision in the middle of the pandemic to really go for it and to come to the UK. It was a tough situation. I did think about postponing my travel. And the scholarship was a turning point that sort of made me decide to go for it. 

Accommodation: Choose the University accommodation (if you can) and apply for this as early as possible as it’s so competitive. And it’s not always straightforward to find private accommodation as an international student due to the requirements from the landlords.

Keep trying: My ambition of wanting more for myself, to make my family proud. This really is the motivating factor behind all the decisions and all my actions so far. And, although hard at times I know it will all pay off and be so worth it in the end.

Find out more about international study at UWE Bristol.

How UWE Bristol have supported my PhD studies as an international student.

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By Rista, Aerospace Engineering PhD student.

Our PhD student, Rista, tells us about her experiences of studying a PhD as an international student and how she’s funded studying abroad. She also shares how UWE Bristol are supporting her career aspirations in academia through her postgraduate research study. Read more about Rista’s story.

Continue reading “How UWE Bristol have supported my PhD studies as an international student.”

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