This is an interview I did recently at GeeBee Consultants in Pune in 2009. Representatives from UK universities had come to India to interview students. The purpose of the interview was to give spot admissions to eligible students.
The person who was going to take my interview was the Dean of Robert Gordon University. He warmly smiled at me and wished me “Namasthe”. It took me a while to figure out that he was speaking Hindi. He politely gestured towards the chair and said “Baithiye” still wearing a pleasant smile.
He introduced himself, shook hands with me and asked me to introduce myself.
First he looked at my application profile – a set of documents which included copies of 10th certificate, 10+2 certificate, degree certificate, fully filled copy of robert gordon university’s application form, statement of purpose and resume.
He asked me to help him to discern my 10th and 12th certificates. He scanned my documents and noted the percentage of marks scored in 10th, 12th and the class awarded in engineering(first/second/third class).
After ensuring that I had scored a score above 70% he went back scanning the 10th certificate for the percentage of marks I scored in English. He repeated the exercise for 12th. He was satisfied with any percentage above 68% or anything close to 70% in English. He declared that I did not need to give an IELTS test as he found my English score satisfactory. He was quite happy to know that I had a first class honours degree.
He jokingly confirmed whether a first class in our college really meant that it was first class. He was happy with my profile and agreed to give me a conditional offer with a condition that I paid the fees necessary for Visa formalities.
For the next thirty minutes, he patiently explained about a lot of things that I didn’t know about education in UK and about life at Robert Gordon University.
He discussed about the specializations that their college offers. He spoke about the subject of marketing in general for a minute.
He discussed in detail about the fee programme. He claimed that the fees charged by his university was highly competitive with respect to the fees charged by other business schools in UK. They charged around 9,300 pounds for international students. He expressed his keen interest in Indian students.
He told about the 1000 pound scholarship that their college offered the previous year. And later corrected himself telling that the waiver was not exactly a scholarship as it was offered to all the international students irrespective of score or competence as an attempt to encourage students study in a weak economy. All the universities waived off a 1000 pounds on fees for international students irrespective of their scores.
About Location of the University
He discussed about the climatic conditions and geographic location of that university. Robert Gordon University was located in the north-most part of England in Aberdeen, Scotland. So, it was the coolest place in the UK. The temperatures run down below the zero degrees Celsius. And occasionally it snows for two weeks in the month of January, the heavy rains following the snow, wash off all the snow. And that the temperature is pretty stable and is called temper weather for its steadiness. It’s a kind of winter all round the year. As opposed to that of climate in the city, Chennai which has one only one season all the year – summer.
He spoke of the history of the town. Aberdeen is an important city to the UK in terms of fishing business and other shipping industries. So the city has fair number of part time jobs.
The town has little number of international migrants. There are some places of UK where the number of migrants from India, Pakisthan, Bangladesh, china are high. Usually racism exists in such places where there are large migrant communities. In the place where this college was situated, only migrants are the international students, so they are treated with respect and no reports of racism.
About night life
He said that the night life in that town starts after 11 PM and goes on till 4 AM. Youngsters hang around in pubs. They leave home at 11 PM and return at 4 AM. He asserted that it was absolutely safe in the night and there was no serious case of local violence in the recent past.
Adding to what he said about security in the night, he quoted his own example of forgetting to lock their door without worrying about theives. Such was the security at that place. He said that he becomes very cautious during his trips to London, and he often checks his wallet and other belongings.
About part time jobs
He quoted an example of a student from chandigarh, Punjab who had completely subsidized his living expenses using the money he earnt from part time jobs. He told that students could earn 300 pounds per month on an average there. And that students were allowed to work for part time jobs officially for 20 hours a week and all the day long during the Easter and Christmas holidays.
About support from Staff
He said that students could approach their friendly and supportive staff anytime to discuss any kind of problem. No matter whether a student is unable to follow instructions of the teaching staff, or student is not able to cope up with the pressure of studies or the student has some financial difficulties or personal problems or wants to go home for an emergency or has any kind of problem there. He also sees students, we could book an appointment with his secretary and block half an hour for seeing him.
About concessions for students for ill health
He said they give reasonable consideration to medical problems. If the student can provide necessary medical evidence of being sick, his/her exam could be postponed or given an extension of time considering it as a special case.
About after college life and jobs
The UK visa permits us to stay there and search for work there. And once we find an job, our employer would take care of the extension of work visa.
About recession and job market
He was frank about recession hitting the UK economy hard. The UK economy was just now recovering from the most dreaded recession of the century. However he hoped that by the time we finished our education by 2012, the economy would revive fast and there would be lot of jobs that would ready. He quoted an example of a job that was necessary in a company but was just being kept in hold to save some extra money during bad economy. Once economy recovers, all such jobs start filling. He also frankly said that few students had trouble finding part time jobs last year owing to the recession.
About difference between MSc and MA
MSc involves statistics and mathematical analyses and equations, more suitable for students with engineering or science background. MA involves less math and more strategy and arts and humanities related stuff in the programme. He thought MSc would suit us better than MA as we had science background. MA suits students with arts and humanities related degree.
About MBA eligibility
He thought that we were not eligible for MBA as our age was just 23 years and that we did not have 4-5 years of experience preferrably managerial experience. And that Msc would let us focus on a single topic.
About semesters and dissertation
He explained about the 3 semester system in the UK MSc course and about the dissertation work in the last semester. I asked him whether we could choose any topic of our choice in dissertation. He replied that we can choose any topic related with the course curriculum. Dissertation was around 25,000 words and that we would get professional help from the professors.
About seeing him in the college
He said that we may not see him in the college as he no longer teaches in the university, he administrates offices. However we may get to see them when we are involved in some misconduct or any disciplinary issues. He playfully said that he didn’t want to see us in his office for misconduct reasons.
Final advice to me
The dean suggested me to get my things ready and get the necessary formalities cleared before I joined the college. He insisted that I went through their website about the course, get some books on marketing and read. Arrange other things such as visa letter, bank loan etc.
About the Author: Sridhar Jammalamadaka is the Editor of Interview Mantra. He is a student pursuing masters in International Institute of Information Technology. With over 4 years of IT experience, he is obsessed with software programming and computer technologies. He loves to see a software come to life in its development life cycle. He is a person who defies "mob mentality" and a deeply spiritual and a strong believer of moral values and righteousness. Through this website, he wishes to gather a large community of aspiring engineers, entrepreneurs and professionals from all parts of the globe. You can connect with him on Facebook - http://www.facebook.com/sridhar.j