Student Experiences - Australia
Eugenie Chua - MSc Neuropsychology
My decision to undertake a Masters in the UK was pretty much a last minute decision given that I already had plans to move to Britain, which had nothing to do with studying (travel: that was my main reason for the move!). In the end, I only applied to two universities and picked Bristol due to the lower cost of living compared to London. Further, Bristol also has an international airport with links to a large number of British and European cities, which suited my plans to travel.
As for the course itself, the MSc in Neuropsychology shares 3 of its 10 units with the Diploma in Clinical Neuropsychology course, which is accredited by the British Psychological Society (BPS). Basically, this meant that there is an increased chance of having the MSc recognised by the Australian Psychological Society (APS) as a 4th year equivalent for provisional clinical registration, though this is not guaranteed. The APS recognition is only a secondary concern for me personally, but it is something other potential Australian students might want to consider when looking at completing further postgraduate studies in psychology in the UK. For those considering an academic and/or research career as opposed to a clinical route, this course with its focus on research methods and advanced statistics, would be an ideal stepping stone towards a PhD and a valid alternative to completing 4th year honours in Australia.
For those considering a 1-year Masters course in the UK, here's some free visa advice: If you're an Australian citizen who is under 31 years old, instead of applying for a 1-year student visa, you can study full-time on a 2-year Youth Mobility visa. The application process for the Youth Mobility visa is much more straightforward and has less stringent financial requirements, with cheaper application fees. Also, you end up with a 2-year visa with no limitation on working hours as you do on the student visa (20 hours per week limit on paid work). However, if your aim is to spend as much time in the UK as possible after your studies, either to travel or gain work experience, you may still want to go for the 1 year student visa, then later switch to the 2 year youth mobility visa so you end up with 3 years in total. This is provided that you're still under the age limit by the time you finish your studies. At this point, I feel that I should include a disclaimer to say that the above advice is accurate as of May 2013. Given how fast immigration law changes, please double check with a qualified immigration solicitor or with the UKBA before making any applications.
Michael Dicker - PhD Advanced Composites
I came to Bristol hoping it would be a place where I would find the magic balance between challenging and diverse research opportunities, and a bustling social scene. So far this is exactly what I have experienced, with my work taking me away from my traditional engineering background and into biological sciences and chemistry as I pursue some really interesting topics. I work with a great group of students from a variety of different academic backgrounds. Not only are they great for bouncing ideas off in the office, they are also great fun to have a pint with at the end of the day at one of the many great pubs that surround the campus. We are always catching up outside of class; watching sport, doing dinners or seeing some live music, for which Bristol is great.
Bristol is an incredibly diverse city, with different regions having very different scenes. All these regions are within walking distance, and it means you can always find the right place for what you are feeling like, and no Friday night out has to be the same. I have been here for 6 months now, and I still have so much more of the city left to explore.
I have also found Bristol to be a great base for exploring Europe. Plenty of cheap flights operate out of the local airport, and the train trip to London is under 2 hours (this might be far for the locals, but by Australian standards it makes Bristol feel like an outer suburb, and well within reach for day trips).
Although I still have some reservations about the weather here, my outlook on what I might like to do post-graduation has been totally changed by the educational experiences I have had here, and the people I have met. I can certainly see myself sticking around the region in the future, either within academia, or with one of the many industrial partners I have been exposed to in my time here.