The Telegraph
| Thursday, December 12, 2013 |

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In verdant Yorkshire

Uday Nair, a PhD student at Sheffield University, the UK, on his fascination with computers, enjoying trekking and being passionate about photography

  • Uday Nair sharing his experience of volunteering at BBC Radio and (below) Uday at Asha

I came to Sheffield in 2008 to pursue an MBA from the University of Sheffield Management School (USMS). After completing my MBA — which I passed with merit — I worked for about a year as a teaching assistant here. The teaching stint kindled in me the desire to pursue doctoral studies.

Having decided to do a PhD, I had to find out the appropriate institute. One also needs to choose a unique topic. I got immense help from people at a charity organisation called Asha for Education where I used to work as a volunteer during my MBA days at Sheffield. Working professionals and researchers in the organisation not only helped me narrow down the research topic, but also guided me how to choose a supervisor. My research proposal was on e-learning, based on my fascination with computers and associated technologies from my school days.

In fact, I was active in volunteering in school and college. I did my schooling at St Xaviers High School, Mumbai, and my Plus Two from K J Somaiya College of Science and Commerce, Mumbai. I completed computer engineering from Fr. Concecao Rodrigues College of Engineering (Bandra), Mumbai. I was also an active member of the students' union in college and taught students in an orphanage. This experience was so positive that I continued to work for charity. Eventually, this helped me join a PhD programme.

  • The University of Sheffield campus

I had interacted with a number of USMS officials during my stint with Asha for Education. When I mentioned my proposal to them, my current supervisor evinced an interest in my research topic. As a result, my proposal was accepted and the University of Sheffield offered me a partial scholarship to pursue a PhD on the topic. I received a partial scholarship (3,500 a year or around Rs 3.5 lakh) to cover part of my tuition fees amounting to Rs 12 lakh per annum. Being an alumnus of the University of Sheffield, I was able to secure an alumni award (1,000 or Rs 1 lakh). Of course, this was not enough to cover my tuition fees and living cost. In order to compensate for the difference, I had to take recourse to part-time teaching at the University of Sheffield and the University of Liverpool.

Initially, I stayed in student accommodation for a year but later moved into an apartment. The accommodations are split into two campuses at Endcliffe and City Centre. Even though the campus is huge, I love to walk to the university departments from my apartment. Life on campus is vivacious, filled with fun and frolic. The city has a large number of Asian students but since 2008 the number of Indian students has gone down. I reckon this has to do with the visa changes and a slow job market. Sheffield is one of the most beautiful cities in the UK. People here are very friendly. It is close to the Peak District where one can engage in para-gliding and trekking. The transport in the city and the UK is simply amazing. Almost all the public vehicles arrive and depart on time. I take the train to visit different universities as a teacher.

During my leisure hours I enjoy trekking in the Peak District national park. A third of the city lies within the park. There are more than 250 parks, woodlands and gardens in the city. The bountiful nature offers me the perfect setting to pursue photography, another of my hobbies. I also enjoy badminton. There are many badminton clubs in Sheffield, some of which are run within the university. Sheffield is also renowned in the sporting circuit and most of the national athletes come here to get training.

HOW I MADE IT

Just as I did, aspiring students should do proper research before deciding on a university given the soaring exchange rates, strict visa regulations and job cuts in the UK

I started preparation at least a year before the start of course. Students aspiring to study here must try talking to the current students . Current students are the best to advise about the university and the course

Requirements of different management courses in the university are different. In general, they demand minimum score bands in IELTS (International English Language Testing System, an English proficiency test)

One way to get expert advice would be to approach educational consultants. They can ease the admission process by giving right advice. One can also directly apply to the university using online application method

As told to Avijit Chatterjee