Cosmos Nike is currently pursuing a Masters degree in Climate Change and Energy Law at the University of Dundee. He found the programme and enrolled via StudyPortals. We asked Cosmos about his experience of searching and applying to a university abroad.
Tell us a bit about yourself. What is your name? How old are you? Where are you from?
Hi, my name is Cosmos Nike Nwedu, I am from Nigeria. I am 29 years old.
Where are/were you studying and what programme? What degree and how long is your programme?
I am currently studying a one-year postgraduate Master of Laws (LLM) in Climate Change and Energy Law and Policy at the Centre for Energy, Petroleum and Mineral Law and Policy (CEPMLP), University of Dundee, United Kingdom.
Why did you want to study abroad?
Studying abroad is a dream I had developed during my fourth year at university. It was truly more than a passion choosing to study abroad given some reasons I have always made recourse to. And that made my aspiration grew intensely on a daily basis.
First, my course is created in such a manner that it has an infusion of climate modules and partly energy elements. This course was not offered in my country. I wanted not just a university abroad where I can study this subject but also, a university where I can learn in an intellectually stimulating environment.
Moreover, I have chosen to study abroad because the quality of education in my country is unarguably of low standard. In fact, on the verge of completing my undergraduate studies, I told myself that, if I could not secure the opportunity to study my dream course overseas, I would probably not study again in my life even if I were to be given scholarship because I did not like the system in my country. This is not a joke. I was conclusive to quit studying if I could not have secured the means to study abroad.
I know that studying abroad is ideal and an opportunity one would always wish to have a sterling career; a great investment one could make.
Deciding for a university
What were your main priorities when choosing your university and your programme (e.g. academics, accommodation, university services & facilities, personal & professional development, city & culture, cost & funding, practicalities, social life)?
When I was deciding which universities should I apply to for my course, I took into consideration salient issues.
First, I was much concerned about the quality of education; where I can study my course very well. Where I currently study, University of Dundee, has indeed become an ideal choice for me. It has quality of teaching and innovative pedagogical research. Talking about quality of education, I mean I took holistic assessment of quality of teaching and research altogether with staff, university services and facilities. But accommodation was never part of my consideration.
Second, I was also very concerned about tuition fee. I wanted a university where my family would be able to fund my studies. Although tuition fee for my course would not be as low as I had wanted, I believed my family and I could pay for it.
Third, I wanted a university where I can have good student experience while enjoying the benefits of cultural diversity with other students. My current university does not just top as a Scottish University of the year 2015 but also, No. 1 University in Scotland for student experience for many consecutive years now.
Was this your first study choice? What other universities did you consider? What was the main reason for your final choice?
Well, I applied to Robert Gordon University first for oil and gas law. I was given admission but was required to produce Test of English as Foreign Language (TOEFL). Although I was willing to take the test but then I did not see any justification for it, since I have been taught in English language starting from primary school to the level of my professional training at the Nigerian Law School, Abuja. I made my reasons of why it was unnecessary for me to take the test vivid to the University but they rebuffed it.
Then, I had to take a look at University of Dundee and Aberdeen University. I made applications to both universities. On one good day, I got an email from the University of Dundee, that after reading my personal statement by their admission committee, they were left with no option other than to offer me an unconditional admission for a place to study at the university. This brought my journey to an end. It was indeed a great joy for me; a moment I can always remember.
Did you know from the start that you wanted to study in that particular country and city? Why did you choose this particular location?
Of course, certainly, I knew quite well my destination of studies. My focus for admission was on the United Kingdom.
Although I was not certain of a particular university but I was convinced of studying in Scotland precisely to say because it appears to be the main European city to offer energy studies.
How did StudyPortals help you in your decision process?
StudyPortals was indeed of great help to me. I call it an engine for choice because you will virtually find universities, courses and offers you any information you want in the course of your search for overseas studies. It provided me with guides for tuition fee for a particular course, list of universities just to mention a few.
Did you take a language test (e.g. TOEFL, IELTS) when applying for the programme? If yes, which one did you choose, why and how was your experience with it?
I did not take it because there was no reason for me to do that.
What would be your advice for students from your country that consider studying abroad?
My advice to prospective students from my country Nigeria is that, choosing a university abroad should always be a no rush decision for them. It is a plan that does not really suffice to be a simple decision because: you may see a lot of universities that offer the same course you want to apply to. But one key question is: what do you want? Simply to say, a choice of university abroad translates to ones career objectives and wishes.
You would not want to study a course in an environment that lacks the requisites to help you make your dream a reality. So, this reason makes it exceedingly important to leap into an opportunity of having time to research, compare and contrast before making a decisive decision for your choice of course, university and the location of it abroad, so that handful issues can be dealt with appropriately.
How did you finance your stay abroad and what financial advice would you give to future students?
Well, my family financed my studies abroad.
Given my experience, I would wish to offer just simple but unavoidable advice to future students who will be wishing to study abroad. My advice is that as a prospective student, you should make sure you have sufficient funding for your studies before taking the move. Always have double plans for your finance. Dont even think of putting your eggs in one basket. Do have a Plan B.
Be certain of how much your school fee is. Make sure you know how much minimum you need for your living expenses for the duration of your studies. Try to know what you would spend on some services outside your tuition fee like, library services, research facilities etc.
Do not hope to work as a means of supplementing your finance while on your studies abroad. It is not guaranteed and as such dangerous. Instead, see it as an opportunity you may take during studies but not as a plan. Inadequate finance while studying, and working while on studies is consequential. They can affect you emotionally and academically.
When you arrive abroad for your studies, take action to draw up your daily budget. Make a budget for contingencies. Be who you are and never think of imitating or living the lifestyle of others. Then, if you heed my financial advice as overseas students, happiness and success will be yours.
Why would you (not) recommend this particular city / university? How would you rate your experience on a scale from zero to ten (0 It was a total disaster, 10 I had the time of my life)?
I have no reason whatever not to recommend my current university to others. I love my university. I am absolutely having what I wanted from studying abroad as a student.
Is there anything that you would do differently if you could do it over again?
Yes, if I should study again at undergraduate level, I would be more serious than how I was then. I was focusing on something else while studying and this affected my undergraduate academic result, a situation I have never felt well about.
What was the biggest surprise in your study abroad adventure?
The diversity of my university and its friendly atmosphere.
Were you inspired by Cosmos' story?