Pursuing Postgraduate Study

Pursuing Postgraduate study at Bath Spa University

Prisca Mwewa graduated with an MA in Education (Leadership and Management) in 2021. She reflects on her time studying at Bath Spa and taking part in an internship at the University.

Studying abroad

I was born and raised in Zambia and came to the UK to pursue my studies at Bath Spa University in 2020. My journey to relocate to the UK took a substantial amount of courage because, until then, I'd never left my country or my family for a prolonged period of time.

Arriving in the UK in September 2020, the reality was not far from what I'd just left at home. The streets were empty and life seemed to be on standstill. This wasn't entirely unexpected, but I had one major goal to accomplish which kept me motivated throughout this journey. I was determined to dedicate all my time to successfully completing my Masters, with the hope of pursuing a PhD soon after.

Overcoming obstacles

At the beginning of my studies, I was faced with many challenges. Firstly, coming here as a mature student, though it has its own advantages, was certainly not a ‘walk in the park’ given the circumstances of the pandemic.

Normally, the expectation for any university student is to actively participate during lectures, conduct personalised research, and overall engage in reflective learning. However, as universities were under lockdown at the time, all forms of learning were done virtually. Due to my limited understanding of IT, this meant that I needed to learn the technologies in addition to my academic studies.

Secondly, my cultural orientation, as is the case for many international students, has shaped me to view life in a totally different way in so far as human interaction, community, belonging and interdependency are concerned. 

"What significantly helped me overcome my challenges? The massive amount of resources and support provided by the University."

Whilst there was so much support provided by the University, my biggest challenge was knowing when to ask for help. In my culture, asking for help from strangers is somehow viewed negatively and this took a toll on my mental health during the early days of my studies. I experienced some kind of "imposter syndrome" and often found myself questioning my capabilities and whether I had what it takes to succeed in this environment.

It took a great deal of personal discipline and motivation to unlearn old habits. What significantly helped me overcome my challenges was the massive amount of resources and support provided by the University. From the academic staff to professional service providers, Bath Spa has a robust system which supports students to grow, become independent and thrive in their studies.

"One of the most remarkable experiences I had during my studies was the interactive nature and comradery with which my modules were presented."

With support

Students at Bath Spa can book appointments with academics to have one-on-one conversations to discuss matters pertaining to their studies. I felt a genuine sense of ownership by the manner in which the academic staff presented their modules, allowing all students to actively participate in all forms of discussions, bringing to the fore individual experiences.

There was no wrong answer. Just truly diverse, lived experiences. Although lectures were held in a virtual classroom, the modules were just as engaging and interactive. I believe that the relatively small number of learners in each class, and the flexibility of the tutors to give guidance while respecting individual student’s autonomy, created an environment for students to be creative and reflective.

There are other similar support services provided by Bath Spa, many of which benefited me greatly. For instance, Student Wellbeing Services provide avenues to promote students’ mental health and wellbeing and the Writing and Learning Centre helps students from predominantly non-English speaking countries gain skills in academic writing.

In addition, the University also supports students and alumni through other professional services which help students gain employability skills such as CV writing and preparation for job interviews. Many of these services can be accessed both virtually and in person and there is a wealth of resources available which can be accessed remotely.

"What was remarkable for me during my 12 week internship was the sheer wealth of knowledge the University has accumulated through its diverse and talented staff. In addition, the University’s culture empowers its staff to uphold such values as commitment, respect, fairness and hard work."

Life after university

In my experience, what has stood out is the manner in which the University has continued to extend support even after I've graduated. It is their intentionality, willingness and the personable way in which this support has been given which has exceeded my expectations. I often felt that I was truly valued and that being an international student with a different cultural background was not a limitation. I truly felt that I was not just a number.

One of the most outstanding initiatives being implemented at the University is the Graduate Placement Scheme, an initiative which supports graduate students to gain industrial experience through work placement.

Through this programme, I was employed by Bath Spa as a Business Development Intern within the External Affairs Unit (EAU). In this role, I was involved in conducting research on measuring and reporting all the social value created at Bath Spa University. This was an interactive role which required constant collaboration with stakeholders.

What was remarkable for me during my 12 week internship was the sheer wealth of knowledge the University has accumulated through its diverse and talented staff. In addition, the University’s culture empowers its staff to uphold such values as commitment, respect, fairness and hard work. This was reflected throughout my time at the University both as a student and as an intern.

As a result of these shared values, it was easy for me to build rapports with fellow staff members within the EAU and across the wider University. These professional relationships helped me to collaborate and coordinate my work more effectively and greatly benefited the outcome of my internship.

Looking back

Reflecting back to this academic journey, with all things considered I can say with utmost conviction that I could never have attended a better university than Bath Spa. I say this looking back at the ways in which Bath Spa has continued to reach out and go above and beyond to meet students’ needs, even as an alum.

Disclaimer: The Bath Spa blog is a platform for individual voices and views from the University's community. Any views or opinions represented in individual posts are personal, belonging solely to the author of that post, and do not represent the views of other Bath Spa staff, or Bath Spa University as an institution.



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