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Not just classes & books

Rishabh Kumar 0:09 IST

All-round learning

The scholarships offered by universities in the UK have proved useful for aspiring students, writes Rishabh Kumar
I have recently completed second year of BSc in Economics at the University of Sheffield. I always knew I wanted to study in the United Kingdom. Thus, I applied to a number of universities. I chose to study Economics as I believe it is a subject that will help me realise my ambition of playing an active part in the Indian public life — advocating for social justice and creating a better society. The scholarships offered by the universities here have proved useful to Indian students aspiring to study in the UK. I received the GREAT scholarship and another one for academic excellence from the University of Sheffield. So far, this has totalled 9,000, which has been of great help to me.

The best thing about studying Economics is the focus it provides on developing critical arguments and incorporating alternative ideas. Last year, I was a committee member for Alternative Economics Society, which seeks to make university Economics courses more realistic and relevant to modern society. As a student society, we have worked closely with the Economics department to organise sessions on topics as diverse as Feminist Economics and Environmental Economics.
I believe that university life is so much more than just the knowledge you develop during the course. The University of Sheffield really encourages you to get involved with extracurricular activities. There are so many societies and activities to get involved in, and no matter what one’s interests are, he or she is sure to find something that suits him or her.

Representation is my passion. In my first year, I was elected by my fellow students as the Economics councillor for my course. As a part of this role, I was responsible for passing policies to make the student union more transparent. I also sat on a number of committees and had the opportunity to make decisions that had a real impact on the university.

Then in my second year, I was elected as the vice chair of a university-wide committee that represents the interests of ethnic minority students. I worked on various campaigns, including running an anti-racism campaign and a programme of events during Black History Month.

The University of Sheffield offers an opportunity to undertake paid internships on campus. As an international student, one can work up to 20 hours per week during term time, and up to 40 hours per week during vacation. This not only helps one earn money but also allows him or her to develop vital employability skills.

I have been fortunate enough to work in a number of exciting roles across the university. In my first year, I was part of a team that organised the Annual Learning and Teaching Conference. This is one of the biggest events in the university calendar, with over 350 attendees. So, it was a great experience of working in a fast-paced role. I was also able to utilise skills developed as part of my degree, whilst working as a research assistant in the human resources department.

I have also worked for the University of Sheffield Enterprise team as a marketing assistant. Along with developing skills in copywriting, online blogging and social media marketing, I had the opportunity to create and manage my own project. I developed an event to engage under-represented groups with leadership and enterprise. The event was a huge success, with excellent feedback from everyone involved.

I believe in the benefits of entrepreneurship and want to get as many Indian students involved into starting their own businesses. I am developing a project called the Global Entrepreneurship Programme, which aims to equip international students with the skills to start their own enterprises, either in the UK or back home.
The University of Sheffield sponsors international students for Tier 1 entrepreneurship visas. This means that if you have a really good idea for a business, you can apply to reside in the UK after graduation to run your own venture.

As a result of all my extracurricular activities and internships, I am now much more confident in meeting new people and discussing my ideas with them. I plan to run for a leadership position within the students union. This is something I would never have had the confidence to do were it not for all the skills and experience I have developed through my extracurricular activities.

Studying in the UK has provided me an opportunity to push myself and develop new skills and interests.

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If you are currently studying abroad, or have done so in the recent past, share your experiences with us at dheducation@deccanherald.co.in


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