Written by Damien Currie, October 2008
Postgraduate study in the UK is an attractive option for international students, despite perceptions about the cost and return on student investment. So what exactly are the benefits? Graduate Prospects spoke to Novel Tjahyadi about his time at City University, London and how an MSc impacted upon his career.
You only have to look at the latest figures to see the popularity of UK postgraduate study with international students. 66% of full-time taught postgraduates and 41% of all taught postgraduates were classed as ‘international’ in academic year 2006/07.
There are of course many reasons why further study here is popular, not least the perceived value of holding a postgraduate degree from a UK institution.
‘It appears to be generally accepted as having good quality, especially as any degree acquired in the UK is accepted worldwide,’ remarks Benson Osawe, founder of the Council for International Students (CIS). ‘The programmes also offer individual thinking to students from overseas.’
This last point is something Novel Tjahyadi picks up on when comparing the experience to his undergraduate studies in Indonesia.
‘There is a huge discrepancy between the education systems. In Indonesia, students hardly challenge or debate with lecturers. Communication was mostly one way, largely due to cultural background. Challenging the elder could be considered impolite for most people.’
The open forum between lecturers and students at City was not the only refreshing aspect of Novel’s time in London. He also found his learning enhanced by interaction with other students, while the practical elements of the course were especially valuable due to his own lack of professional experience in the IT industry.
Prior to enrolling on the course, Novel had been working as a Field Engineer with Schlumberger but saw an opportunity to re-train with the boom in the IT industry. He had saved enough money to fund further study himself and avoided accommodation costs by staying with his sister and her family, who were already living in London.
At the end of his one year MSc in Business Systems Analysis Design, Novel began looking for work in the UK but ran into problems with work permits. He returned to Indonesia a little disappointed but with a valuable asset.
‘In general, Indonesian companies consider UK graduates as good products. They would value not only the qualification but also the international expertise through the course and your experience of life overseas. With more and more global orientation from the Indonesian employers, international postgraduates stand a better chance to be awarded jobs in the market for that reason, and for their language skills.’
Novel worked for a management consultancy firm for a year, then rejoined Schlumberger, this time as an IT professional. Some eight years later, he is now an IT Project Manager and reflects on how his experience in the UK still helps him in his work.
‘I did expect the course to prepare me to become an IT professional. Some of the course modules, like project management, equipped me with the knowledge of how to run a project. But it was more than just sitting in class. The international exposure shaped the way I am today and boosted my confidence in dealing with people from different backgrounds.’
These skills, and others, will no doubt be critical while Novel is seconded to the company’s Paris office, though speaking to him you get the distinct sense that the opportunity will not be wasted.
‘Use your time to the maximum,’ he encourages, when asked what advice he would offer to international students looking to study in the UK. ‘Studying is your first priority, but at the same time try to mingle with students from other countries and get as much life experience as possible.’
Clearly, not all international students tell the same story and many may find their careers do not see the benefits of a postgraduate qualification immediately, or that they do not settle into the UK culture and lifestyle as smoothly. Novel’s experience does show, however, that hard work and a positive approach to the challenge can bring the rewards.
This website is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with CSS enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets if you are able to do so.