are pleased to be in partnership with The
CV Centre, the UK's leading CV consultancy, in bringing
you a helpful range of graduate advice articles.
abroad can be a very rewarding experience - and also a very
challenging one. So it makes sense to spend some time carefully
considering whether it is the right option for you. It is
also a good idea to bear in mind that the application procedures
can be time-consuming and you may need to start planning as
early as the beginning of your penultimate year of study.
you begin to research the type of study you would like to
undertake abroad, you need to ascertain exactly what you would
like to achieve whilst you are abroad. Are you motivated by
the opportunity to undertake research with leading experts
in your field? Do you wish to gain further academic qualifications,
skills and languages? Or are you primarily searching for a
these points will of course affect the country you choose
to go to and the nature of the studies you undertake. Once
you have narrowed down your objectives it is then time to
embark on some thorough research to try to make sure that
your time spent abroad meets these criteria.
Student or Further Qualifications?
post-graduate study abroad, you will normally either go as
an informal research student or you will enter into a formal
course of post-graduate study. If you are considering taking
formal qualifications abroad, it is usually a good idea to
make sure that the qualifications you hope to attain will
be formally recognised within the country in which you intend
to work after your studies.
ideal world, the leading light within your subject would also
be based in the destination of your dreams. Unfortunately
this isn't often the case! It can therefore once again be
very useful to consider your objectives carefully. If language
skills and the cultural aspects of your destination play a
significant role in your plans and future career path, then
your choice of country may well take priority over your choice
of supervisor. However if you are focusing on increasing your
knowledge in your specialist area, then it may be far more
appropriate to plan your choice of location and institution
around the availability of experts in your field, or based
on the facilities available in different locations.
of course, also important to consider how your trip will be
funded - do you intend to apply for scholarships and grants,
or would you be able to cover the cost of transport, living
expenses and university fees yourself? If you are planning
to apply for funding, consider contacting the embassies of
the countries you are interested in studying within. Embassies
are often able to provide comprehensive lists of university
contact details along with information regarding the range
of grants and scholarships they administer. It is particularly
important to plan ahead when organising funding.
case study based on the experiences of a Japanese Mext Scholarship
Blum took a BA in Fine Art at the University of Newcastle
upon Tyne and decided to follow her interest in Japanese visual
arts by applying for a 'Mext' research scholarship for post-graduate
study in Japan.
of her penultimate year of study, she checked the application
procedures and deadlines with the Japanese embassy in London,
and then wrote to several fine art departments in Japan enclosing
a study plan and slides of her work. In the meantime she set
about completing the extensive application forms, which required
a detailed study proposal as well as proof of academic results.
In response to the information she had submitted to the fine
art departments in Japan she received several replies stating
that they would be pleased to accept her as a student - if
she managed to win the Mext scholarship.
was to take up research studies in fine art for 18 months.
However she also knew that with this particular scholarship
there would be an opportunity to remain in Japan for longer
than 18 months and to enter a Masters course in the future.
The deadline for the completed application forms to reach
the embassy was in the June of that year and she received
notification during the summer holidays that she had been
selected for interview at the embassy in London.
was rigorous, but she was fortunate enough to be awarded a
scholarship to begin in the October of the year she graduated.
The terms of the scholarship did not dictate that you needed
to be able to speak Japanese before you applied for the scholarship,
however it did stipulate that the first five months of the
scholarship would be mainly dedicated to language lessons.
This was a great help as it made the subsequent year of study
in the fine art department at Kyoto University of Arts much
Japan was constantly interesting and surprising and, being
a fine artist, she was particularly interested in the culture
of the country. She had selected Kyoto as the city she wanted
to be based in because, in contrast to Tokyo and nearby Osaka,
it still retains many temples and other traditional aspects
of Japanese life. Fortunately many of the trials and tribulations
of everyday life (renting accommodation, opening a bank account,
etc.) were dealt with by the exchange student liaison officer
at her host university, as part of the terms of her scholarship.
However there were of course the usual stresses and strains
of everyday life, which often seem to be magnified when living
in a very different culture - not least the fact of being
very far away from home. Of course these added challenges
also made it a very exhilarating experience!
end of the initial 18 months came closer she needed to decide
whether to convert her research studentship into a masters
course or whether to return to the UK. After much thought,
she decided to return to the UK to pursue her career as an
artist in London. Enriched by the experience of study abroad
she returned to the UK and gained a studio residency award
in London, which enabled her to continue to expand upon the
work she had begun in Japan. She still maintains her links
with Japan and Japanese painting and architecture continues
to inform her work. In Alex's case 18 months study abroad
was certainly an enriching experience and one which continues
to impact upon her career - www.alexblum.co.uk.
The CV Centre
one thing to know in your own mind that you have the skills
and ability for a study opportunity. However it can be quite
another matter when it comes to convincing a rigorous selection
panel of this. Your CV, covering letters and, most importantly,
your application forms are documents vital to your success.
If you want to make sure that these are of the highest possible
standard then you need to get them professionally prepared.