The Chevening scholarship application for the 2023/2024 cohort is now open.
In light of that, I thought I'd share why I chose Brunel University under my Chevening scholarship award. I think this might help, especially when researching and choosing the universities you'd like to study at. I'll explain why I chose Brunel University as my first choice when I applied for Chevening, and what aspects of the university made it enjoyable for me. If you are looking for universities in London or in the UK, why not Brunel? (This blog is not sponsored by Brunel University btw. I just genuinely liked it there 😂)
While my own Chevening experience wasn't particularly a good one due to the pandemic, I am still thankful for the opportunity to have gained a Master's degree amidst the struggle. And in saying that, I have no regrets that I chose Brunel University for that experience.
So, why Brunel University London?
I've always wanted to study in the UK for a post-graduate degree. Didn't really matter where, as long as it was somewhere in the UK and had some kind of relevance to Harry Potter (Scotland was my second choice btw because of the Hogwarts Express/ Jacobite Express & Hogwarts /Alnwick Castle😂).
When I was looking for universities to apply to under the Chevening scholarship, I looked for universities in which:
I didn't need English language proficiency results (IELTS)*
It had the course I wanted (HR related)
I didn't have to pay an application fee to the university**
The university accommodation was guaranteed for international students
The cost of living in that area was reasonable
*Some universities give you an exemption if you studied in a Majority English-speaking countries (MESCs) such as New Zealand, Australia, Canada, Amerikkka etc. Since I did my undergrad at Auckland Uni in New Zealand, I didn't need an IELTS test. If you went to USP though, you may need an IELTS test or an equivalent test.
**Some universities require an application fee when you make your submission. This doesn't even guarantee you'd get a placement or offer letter. He fanga sengai kanisa pa'anga🙄
Lucky for me that Brunel Uni fit all the above! On top of that,
Brunel Uni was in London. I've always wanted to say I've lived in London, even if it was 'uta London (Zone 6) 😂😂.
The cost of accommodation was much cheaper than central London universities.
When you get your offer letter, student accommodation is also guaranteed, especially for international students.
A high number of the student population were international students, so the support network for international students was fantastic.
Small campus and everything was conveniently located (the student bar was right across from the library 😂)
Reasonably close to Watford (Warner Bros Harry Potter studio 😂)
Some people might also consider international/world university ranking and reputation as one of the factors in choosing a university.
From personal experience, I did that for my undergrad, and I didn’t want to do that again for post-grad. For my undergrad, I picked the University of Auckland (UoA) because it is the top university in New Zealand. However, it was my first time in a predominantly white/palangi institute and the atmosphere was competitive and subtly racist towards Pasifika/minority students. While there were support groups at UoA specific to Maori and Pasifika students, sometimes it still felt overwhelming. If I had to study again in NZ, I probably won't choose UoA. Maybe it’s changed now because I started there in 2012 and graduated in 2015. Hei'ilo.
To choose the university I wanted to study post-grad at, I did not look at the international ranking at all. I looked for a more relaxed university with high student satisfaction ratings and a more ethnically diverse student population. I wanted to enjoy learning this time around, and not feel stifled under pressure.
Brunel University had really good reviews for international student support, as well as many student support programs such as academic writing, language classes, career support and development, job placements etc. The students, as well as the lecturers, were of many different ethnicities and cultural backgrounds, so to me, it felt like an interesting melting pot where you not only learn academically but of different cultures as well.
During the pandemic, Brunel Uni really amped their student support services. They offered a lot of mental health online classes and training, as well as practical online workshops for budgeting money and cooking healthy meals using student-budget-friendly ingredients. There was also a financial aid program for students who were struggling financially, and an extension on some payments. The courses shifted online, but the level of engagement and support from the lecturers did not change.
Brunel Uni also made changes and additional extensions for assignments, exams and other student assessments, even our dissertation! Our dissertation was originally due in early September, but we got a one-month extension. I thought this was amazing because my Pasifika Chevening friends in other universities complained there were no extensions for them, or if there were, it was only a week extension. They had to deal with the stress of the pandemic on top of the academic stress. Can you imagine the horror!?
Brunel Uni is one of the greenest universities in London, and there were lots of pretty flowers around campus most of the time as well as fields and green spaces near the university. I stayed on campus until my accommodation period ended around September 2020, and there weren't many people living on campus anymore at that time (they'd all gone back home). Having the green spaces near campus accommodation without the hustle and crowds of people around really helped my mental health. I'd take long, long walks while listening to music and be one with nature (and occasionally step on dog shit😭 ).
A small river that cuts across the Brunel Campus
I don't know what that tree is called, but its yellow flowers smelled sooooo nice!
A random field near the campus. The surrounding trees are cherry trees, and the shrubs were wild blackberries. There were wildflowers that smelled really nice around here.
Overall, I enjoyed my time at Brunel University and have no regrets that I chose Brunel University. Obviously, the circumstance under which I had to get my Master's degree wasn't ideal due to the pandemic, but if I had the opportunity to study again in the UK, I would highly consider going to Brunel University again.
So really, if you are looking for universities in London or in the UK for Chevening, why not Brunel?
Check out their website here:
Until next time. 'Ofa atu.