Rediscover Brunei Darussalam through the eyes of the People
Greetings folks. I spent some time at the recent UK Higher Education Fair on 21st August where there were over 20 institutions represented. It was organised by the British Universities Brunei Association (BUBA). The venue was packed with eager parents and students looking to apply in time for the 2013/2014 academic year and folks who were there to find out more. Helpful UK alumni were also present with current students back for Raya holidays lending a hand at their respective places of study.
About BUBA: BUBA is an association of 40+ UK Universities who each have a strong interest and history of working with the country of Brunei and its students. The aim of the organisation is to promote relationships and develop understanding between British Universities and all Brunei students or organisations who are interested in UK Higher Education. The BUBA can provide students information regarding the differences between UK Universities, the locations of UK Universities, the Brunei student communities at the different UK Universities, how to apply to UK Universities, how to contact your University of choice and how to meet staff from your University of choice (in Brunei).
I caught up with Karen Arnold, BUBA Treasurer and Sarah Jones-Morris, BUBA Communication Officer. I also spoke to a few locals, in particular to Bruneian scholar Nur Atiqah Hj Adinin about her UK experiences, but more on that another time.
Karen Arnold, BUBA Treasurer and Regional Director from the University of Southampton for East Asia
Sarah Jones-Morris, BUBA Communication Officer and Country Manager for International Recruitments from Bangor University
I asked Karen, “Why study in the UK?” and she highlighted that students will get world class education while experiencing different cultures, and that they are able to visit the rest of Europe because of the centrality of the UK. Sarah mentioned the wide variety of courses available, both that there was “something for everyone”. Regarding integrating into student life and the diverse communities in the UK, Karen noted that folks in the UK are general accepting, but that it was important and beneficial for students to also step out of their comfort zones and be pro-active in building cultural bridges.
I asked whether there were misconceptions about studying in the UK. They explained that the UK is more than just “the London experience”, and they also debunked the notion that living in the UK was expensive. Karen and Sarah also spoke about the blend of history and innovation in present day urban planning in the UK, that while there were many new mega structures going up, old buildings were also being restored.
Last Friday I dropped by the British Council's pre-departure briefing for students headed to the UK for studies this September. It was held at the Maktab Sains auditorium (my first time at Maktab Sains!) and it was a pretty informative session. Students, parents and guardians attended the briefing which covered How To's, What To Do's, What To Bring's, What To Expect's, etc.
Sarah Clements, UK Border Agency representative, gave details of visa procedures, and UK alumni and current students spoke about their own experiences in the UK. They gave practical tips about travel, study, clothing and budgeting, as well as suggestions to help new students adjust and make the most of their stay in the UK.
The British Council's press release noted, "The UK continues to welcome students from Brunei. UK education has a reputation worldwide for outstanding quality and a tradition of innovation. We recognise the important contributions that international students make to ensure the UK’s educational system remains one of the best in the world. The UK is the top study destination for international students, with over 455,000 international students studying at British universities. There are currently over 2,000 Bruneian students studying in the UK. We warmly welcome this year’s new arrivals."
Special shoutout to Fiona Fung who was in The Brunei Times this week. The BT article announced "Bruneian lands dream job at BBC", elaborating that Fiona was the first Bruneian at the British Broadcasting Company. Long time readers of this blog might remember Fiona's feature way back in March 2011 while she was still undertaking her Masters in Manchester. She shared a canded account of life as a Third Culture Kid. Here's a snippet from the piece.
"The point I am trying to make is how important it is to know your own identity, to be comfortable with yourself! I intend to live my life in Brunei, and to do so I must learn to accept my situation and address the feelings that come with being a T/CCK. I could either cut myself off, or completely embrace it – I know which I would rather choose. We might have different skin, different accents, different backgrounds – but with one thing in common – we are all in Brunei and here to contribute."
When asked about her thoughts of Brunei's media industry, the BT article noted that she said, "Being such a small nation with limited creative freedom, there isn't the competition or the need to produce our own high-quality programming. The cost of creating original work is outweighed by the return you would get from such a small population and no competition...For Brunei, it is currently more cost effective to buy production from overseas, the trouble is, they're often not relevant to our nation."
Congratulations Fiona. You go girl!
Hi folks. The Brunei Times published an article citing that local youths preferred government employment over work in the private sector and entrepreneurship. 1,051 youths between the ages of 18 and 23 took part in the survey and the results reflected a clear preference for civil service as the choice for employment.
The article goes on and touches on a few other (huge) subthemes: current labour force numbers and distributions, the nature vs nurture argument, and the 'what happens when the oil runs out?' discussion.
All these fall under the 'Future of the Nation' topic which fascinates me and it is one I will continue to keep close watch on. Do you folks have any thoughts on these topics? Share them in the comments section below.
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