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This is a collection of former students’ retrospectives about their study experiences. These are personal accounts and should not be seen as objective assessments of any given course. Nonetheless, they aim to be informative and provide an “insider view”. Anyone is welcome to contribute their account and should read the guidelines here. Please note that the views expressed are solely those of their authors, and in no way necessarily reflect the views of the editorial team.
Graduate Diploma in Governance and Development Management at the University of Birmingham
University of Birmingham
Written by Teboho Mokela, Maseru, Lesotho   

Teboho-Mokela.jpgI worked in the Lesotho Civil Service for eight years before I decided to undertake continuing professional development. At the beginning of 2004 I was invited for a scholarship interview, and was short-listed for a Chevening Scholarship by the British Council, which eventually placed me at the University of Birmingham. In September 2004, I left home to study in the United Kingdom. At the time, I did not know much about Birmingham or its university. I felt excited to explore this new city.

On arrival at the University I never looked back. The School of Public Policy conducted a splendid orientation for us as new students. Admittedly, the twelve-month course was intensive. I joined as a student of the Graduate Diploma in Governance and Development Management. However, I attended lectures with Masters-level students and the Course Director told me that I would be allowed to transfer to Masters level if I attained over 50% in all modules. I worked hard, and with the help of my tutor, lecturers and colleagues I managed it. I eventually left the UK with a Masters degree, which I had passed with merit. This was a great achievement on my part and I wish to extend my sincere gratitude to all who had a hand in my success.

MSc in Public Administration and Development at the University of Birmingham
University of Birmingham
Written by Lydia Emer   

After 14 years of searching, I finally discovered a postgraduate programme that allows me to combine learning with a full-time job and raising a family. I was fortunate to receive my bachelor's degree from Birmingham, and discovered the postgraduate course in public administration through research on the web. The course is a powerful combination of faculty-directed learning, group discussion and research via the e-library. More than anything, I value the opportunity to interact with a community of students that is drawn from almost every continent of the world. As a person raised in the UK, and living in the US, I feel fortunate to have the opportunity to learn from the wisdom and experience of folks who have traveled and live further afield. I feel that I have the opportunity to learn greater lessons, through the myriad of perspectives, than would be available in a class environment in the US.

The course is the best thing I have ever done for myself - even with the timed assignments.

The faculty are relatively easy to access, and the staff are always available to help (allowing for time zones). There is an incredible sense of community, friendship and closeness, even though we are physically distant. The library is always available, and has a good range of material.

I highly recommend the course if you are a self-directed student, who is eager for a greater understanding of the world and globalization. 

Lydia Emer, MSc in Public Administration and Development 

MA International Development Studies at Saint Mary's University
Saint Mary's University
Contributed by Stefanie Carmichael   

Year of graduation: 2007

Stefanie-Carmichael.jpgWhen I was pursuing my undergraduate degree, I got lost in the over 60,000 students that were at my university. At Saint Mary’s University, where I am currently working towards my Masters in International Development, not only have I found an interesting and rigorous program, but I am also studying with professors who are giving me the personal attention I need to challenge my abilities.

The International Development Studies program at Saint Mary’s provides a wide range of stimulating and relevant courses, covering everything from development economics to project management to gender issues and forced migration, while also offering the opportunity to interact with a diverse student body. With students and professors who hail from all parts of the world, this program combines the best of both worlds – top-notch academics with unique first-hand experiences.
MSc International Finance and Economic Policy - Combining Finance and Economic Policy: a scarce opportunity
University of Glasgow
Contributed by Matthias Hilgert   

Year of graduation: 2005

Matthias HilgertBefore I came to Glasgow I did my first degree in Business Economics and Information Systems Management and used to work for a couple of years as a Business Consultant in a medium-sized German bank. To gain international experience and to pursue a Master’s degree I was looking for a reasonable programme abroad. I did a lot of research about possible programmes in the UK, but found not many which suited my needs. The International Finance and Economic Policy programme of the Centre for Development Studies was the appropriate Master’s for me, because it offered a consummate mix of Finance and Economics lectures. Therefore, it gave me the opportunity to specialise in certain subjects and to broaden my horizons.
Internships: UNHCR - A Peek into the Humanitarian World
Contributed by James Owuor Onyango   

Year of internship: 2006

Why Dadaab?

James Owuor Onyango The four years in college came to pass and I had to come up with more resourceful ways of taking up my new responsibilities, not as a student, but something in between. Transitions can be unsettling and my case was no exception. With two months to my final exams, I got the offer to take up a six months internship in the Dadaab refugee camps working under Community Services Unit.

It is worth mentioning how I got my internship. By the time of my application, the official statement according to the UNHCR website was that no internships were available. Prospective interns were encouraged to keep checking the website from time to time. As I was discussing the same with one of my classmates later on, she encouraged me to fill in the Internship form and submit it to the UNHCR Branch Office. Two weeks following my application I received a phone call from the Community Services Officer Sub Office Dadaab inviting me for an interview. The interview was conducted at the branch office and about twenty minutes later I was offered to participate in the programme. That's how I found myself in Dadaab. This underlines the fact that in this line of work one needs to be insistent you never know when your assistance may be required.