Staff and students had the pleasure of attending the first University Pathway Alliance (UPA) conference at Woburn House in Bloomsbury on Friday the 8th of February. Queen Mary is a founder member of the UPA, an organisation which aims to champion the high-quality features of international pathways which are designed, owned and delivered by UK universities.
The conference kicked off with a pechakucha presentation competition. Students from 9 of the UPA’s 10 members participated, and the standard was excellent. Karim Motawe from Egypt did a great job representing Queen Mary, his wit and charm complementing his self-taken photography very well. First prize quite rightly went to the presenter from Kent, however, who used her twenty slides to tell an inspiring story of her personal journey as an international foundation student.
Our four other student delegates also represented Queen Mary very well in discussions and networking opportunities afforded by the conference. Beatrice Braghi from Italy said this of her experience of the event:
“I really enjoyed the experience at the UPA conference and I was very proud to represent Queen Mary at Woburn House. Meeting foundation students from other UK universities and listening to their experience was very interesting and finding out that we all share the same struggles made me feel part of a big community.”
These positive sentiments were echoed by Margarita Anisimova from Russia:
“It was an honour taking part at a University Pathway Alliance conference, I was able to engage with students and teachers from other international foundation programmes. In our constructive workshop, we shared our knowledge and personal experience with our courses. I was surrounded by very inspiring individuals who are keen on their studies and improving foundation programmes.”
Adnan Zuwayyed from Jordan contributed the following reflection on the day:
“The Pecha Kucha presentations resonated with me as an international student, because many of the students were from different parts of the world, their presentations showed the struggles of studying abroad. In a way, watching the presentations was a kind of catharsis, knowing I wasn’t alone in my struggles, and seeing them presented in such a unique, and humorous, fashion, I was comforted to know that I wasn’t the only one struggling. The workshop was wonderful, I sat with different students and university staff, and we discussed international student integration, and how to tackle certain problems, such as understanding the culture, feeling alienated, and how our respective universities help us overcome these problems. Overall it was a wonderful experience, and I recommend all future international students to attend, they don’t have to participate, just being there among the audience was greatly beneficial.”