This year UCL Study Abroad organised the university’s first Widening Participation (WP) Summer Programme overseas, working with Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia (UKM, National University Malaysia) on a leadership and cultural immersion experience. The programme promotes UCL’s principal themes and strategic plans to provide exceptional student experiences and deliver global impact through innovative international activities and partnerships. The opportunity was truly transformative for this cohort that celebrates UCL’s diverse student community.
16 students across Arts & Humanities, Engineering Sciences, Laws, Mathematics & Physical Sciences and Social & Historical Sciences engaged in a fully funded week-long programme (25 June - 1 July 2023) that included lectures, workshops and field trips within and beyond UKM campus. Notable speakers included Dr. Rezal Khairi Ahmad (CEO of NanoMalaysia, UCL Alumni), Ms. Min Edina Mustapha Kamal (Strategy Head, Petronas) and Dr. Richard Marshall (Senior Economist, United Nations). It was especially valuable for students to learn about the unique leadership journeys that shaped the career paths of each of the speakers. After the initial culture shock of 90% humidity, monkeys on campus and ’free-style’ photos, students quickly absorbed the diverse Malaysian culture. UKM student ambassadors and staff warmly welcomed UCL students through tours around Kuala Lumpur, shared meals and social activities (including an impromptu UKM-UCL futsal match!). Likewise, UKM students learnt about British culture through their group work and interactions with the UCL cohort. Students developed their independence and leadership skills through lessons learnt in and outside the classroom, taking back newly formed professional networks, friendships and life-changing experiences.
The programme has already seen powerful impacts made on students, with Eden-Rae Wedderburn, 1 Year Physics MSci student saying, "I personally found it was my only experience at UCL where I’ve been around people with a similar financial background to me (which meant we could share scholarship opportunities), people that looked like me (which meant I didn’t feel alone at UCL), and some people who didn’t academically, financially or otherly intimidate me. It was a subtle way of connecting alike students and I honestly feel like I’ve found friends at UCL."
Tisha Pruthi, 1 Year Information Management BSc student reported, "The programme has given me the confidence and inspiration to explore new horizons and broaden my perspectives. It has provided me with a sense of independence and the belief that I can thrive in unfamiliar environments. Additionally, the opportunity to make new friends from diverse backgrounds has been a highlight of the experience, further fuelling my desire to engage in more international opportunities."
UCL Study Abroad are delighted at the success of the inaugural WP Summer Programme, as this has furthered the university’s international outreach and enhanced the student experience. The team look forward to providing a similar WP short-term global mobility next year and for years to come.
For more information about the WP Summer Programme, visit the WP Summer Programme webpage.
For other short-term and term-time study abroad opportunities see UCL’s Go Abroad and Short-term global opportunities webpages.
For information on WP support and other opportunities visit the Access and Widening Participation webpage.
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