My PhD research is situated within the migration, education, and development nexus. It investigates educational migration aspirations, experiences and outcomes, using the case of UK-educated Commonwealth scholars from Nigeria. My research is very relevant to both worlds of academia and policy/practice – it contributes to research and policy on migration, education and development studies. What I enjoy most about the work I am doing is knowing that my research will further geographical knowledge and contribute to policy-making – this keeps me going!
My research involves participants, institutional actors and stakeholders in multiple countries, hence the comprehensive data collected for this research will result in a well-rounded discussion/analysis that will further geographical knowledge and generate evidence-based policy recommendations for the Commonwealth Scholarship and Fellowship Plan administrators both in the UK and Commonwealth-wide – doesn't that sound fascinating?
Coming back to study a PhD from industry
I had a one-year break between completing my Master's in International Relations at Loughborough University in 2017 and starting my PhD in Geography (Human and Social) here in 2018. During this period, I gained some experience working with a legal firm in the UK and a multi-national oil and gas company in Nigeria.
Loughborough offered me full-tuition scholarships for both master’s and PhD studies. I had a great student experience during my master’s studies which influenced my decision to come back for a PhD. Having completed my master's programme at Loughborough University during the period of which I was involved in extracurricular activities, I had already built my network across the University. Hence, I found it a lot easier identifying and accessing the right support throughout the process of applying for a PhD. My supervisors with whom I had begun conversations with early in the process were also very helpful in making my decision to remain at Loughborough.
Undergraduate to postgraduate experience
Generally speaking, postgraduate studies are much more advanced and specialised than undergraduate studies. Ideally, the higher the degree, the more advanced and specialised the studies. Another significant difference is that as a PhD student, I have had several opportunities to attend conferences, seminars, training, and workshops, which I did not get as an undergraduate or even as a master’s student. The fun part about doing a PhD is the relative flexibility of time that it offers.
Personally, a typical day for me as a PhD student begins as I wake up, say my prayers and positive affirmations (a very important part of my daily routine) before starting the day's work which can range from completing training on a variety of research methods, management and impact and conducting field-based research and analysis to delivering presentations at international conferences and seminars and assisting in teaching undergraduate modules. Depending on the task for the day, I work in my designated PGR office, on the field (for data collection) or from home. For instance, when I’m in the peak of writing, I prefer to work overnight from home, as it is quiet and there are less distractions. I also incorporate exercises into my daily routine as one of my stress coping mechanisms.
There are several support services that the School provides, ranging from financial and administrative to welfare support. For instance, PhD students in my School are provided an annual budget of £300 to spend on research-related activities, which I have been a beneficiary of to cover conferences attendance fees. I have also benefited from the administrative support of the School Finance office team when I was planning and implementing my fieldwork activities and expenses.
There are so many opportunities out there for your personal and professional development – so my advice to future students would be to endeavour to explore, examine and enjoy as many of them as you possibly can! Most importantly, enjoy the PhD journey – it is a marathon, not a sprint!