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International student spotlight: Study at Sydney and online

3 August 2020
Meet second year Master of Public Policy student, Urvashi Bandhu
When COVID-19 hit, international student Urvashi Bandhu had just started her second year. She doubted if classes could be run online effectively and whether she would cope. Now, she quite enjoys it and says it shouldn't deter students from enrolling.

Why did you choose the University of Sydney?

The University of Sydney has a high reputation in my home country, India.

While choosing universities, I was categorising universities in terms of the relevancy of the course and subjects offered, international reputation, rankings, the employability of graduates, the city the university was located in and feedback from alumni.

Sydney ranked quite high in all the categories, making the decision simple for me.

The University of Sydney had a lot to offer in terms of extra-curricular support and services, complimentary to one’s all-round development as a graduate, attracting me to choose Sydney.
Urvashi Bandhu, Master of Public Policy student

When did you know you had made the right choice?

I was impressed from the moment I stepped foot on campus and saw the Quadrangle in person for the first time.

The regular and clear communication from the University, even before my course started, followed by the detailed orientation sessions during the first week confirmed I was in the right place.

My first evening at the Uni, where I interacted with other new students and staff left a lasting impression as I realised the amount of support available at Sydney. That is where I made friends who grew to be my support system.

Having the opportunity to access the wide variety of resources, services and support available, in addition to the high standard of academia, reaffirms my choice.

What were you expecting when classes switched online?

I was sceptical of how classes would run online and whether I would be able to cope studying remotely. Further, I was expecting delays with the online transition.

But I was pleasantly surprised – there were no delays in the transition process, as far as my classes were concerned. While the system was equally new to the staff and students, everyone was mutually respectful and supportive in this changed environment. I quite enjoyed studying online, to be honest.

What would you say to students unsure about starting or continuing their degree in Semester 2?

While everyone has a different style of studying and different expectations from uni life, I feel that studying online should not deter students from enrolling in Semester 2.

The option to commence studies from the comfort of one’s home should be viewed as an advantage – you acclimatise to higher education and your chosen degree from home, without having to go through the stress of moving to new city/country.

Time is of the essence and Semester 2 will allow one to reach their goal faster, from the comfort of one’s home! The flexibility and ease of studying, without a reduction in quality of teaching is something I look forward to in Semester 2 and I hope others do too.

How would you describe the quality of academics you’re taught by?

My teachers have been impressive, delivering excellent classes with in-depth subject knowledge.

The standard of teaching at the University of Sydney has been high, especially compared to my undergraduate experience at my previous university.
Urvashi Bandhu, Master of Public Policy student

I am particularly impressed with the detailed feedback I’ve received for every assignment, helping me self-evaluate and improve my work.

I come from an education system where the level of communication between students and lecturers is quite low and very formal. The approachability, ease of access and communication with my lecturers here, is something I truly appreciate.

How does it feel to be part of the USYD community?

I definitely get a sense of belonging to a community at USYD. Even though it’s sometimes difficult to connect with peers at a postgraduate level, I have met some wonderful people here and made friends for a lifetime.

I believe this has been possible due to my taking the initiative or the first step in reaching out and making connections. I have always reached out to my tutors and found immense support and guidance whether for assignments, the unit in general or even career advice. My teachers have been very supportive and ensured I wasn’t ever left feeling lost.


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Advantages of online study

Urvashi says there are key advantages to studying online
1

Flexibility in terms of time/pace of lectures is unparalleled.

2

Easy, convenient access to class slides and recordings allowed me to plan a scheduled that best suited my productivity. I also enjoyed being able to adjust the speed of lectures, recap or skip portions as I prepared for exams.

3

I saved a lot of time and energy normally spent travelling to uni; it increased my general productivity and performance throughout the semester.

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