International University Pathways
In recent years, increasing numbers of British-born pupils have been expressing an interest in attending overseas Universities and Further Education institutions, and the Higher Education and Careers team at Bede’s in East Sussex have been exploring why – and how to help.
Aside from anecdotal experience, the team at Bede’s were inspired by a survey undertaken by the British Council in 2015 which indicated that increasing numbers of British students were opting to study abroad. Reasons for this included the benefits of experiencing a different culture, the potential for working for international companies in the future, and, in some cases, funding arrangements.
Bede’s responded by providing advice and support to pupils pursuing applications overseas through a programme led by specialist co-ordinator, Dino Dozgic.
“I went to school at Bede’s – or St Bede’s as it was then – and also attended university in the States myself on a football scholarship,” Mr Dozgic recently explained. “This means I have very specific, first-hand experience of the benefits of studying overseas, and have built out my knowledge from there.”
Since taking on the role at Bede’s, Mr Dozgic has supported dozens of pupils considering the option of overseas universities – from mathematicians interested in studying in Mexico to sports scholars seeking opportunities at Ivy League colleges in the US.
“Bede’s encourages pupils to begin seriously considering their university choices in the Upper Fifth and then I will start having individual meetings with pupils in the Lower Sixth to discuss their plans and clarify things before we involve parents, too.”
This year, Bede’s has five Upper Sixth pupils who are planning to study abroad. Marko Brnovic has turned down an offer from Oxford University in favour of the University of New York where he will study Physics at their campus in Abu Dhabi. Other pupils heading overseas include Shehreyar Piracha, applying to Syracuse, Toby Gillmore to San Franciso, Vedant Mathur to Canada’s Simon Fraser university and Matt Pickering to Dartmouth, an Ivy League university on a scholarship.
“My own time at University was the best experience of my life in many ways, and I still return every summer to coach soccer,” Mr Dozgic continued, “but it’s not an easy life; the football programme at West Virginia, where I studied, was very demanding and competitive. Life could be pretty intense. I try to help prepare Bede’s students today, and enable them to understand what they are signing up for.”
Many Bedians have trodden this path, informed by Mr Dozgic’s wisdom on the topic, with Ben Kebbell, who left Bede’s last year, enjoying life at the University of Connecticut where he is studying Mechanical Engineering with Physics and Maths.
Ben explained the admissions process, saying “It was hard work and quite complicated, but Bede’s supplied me with the books I needed to prepare for my SAT tests and I got lots of help from Mr Dozgic and Mr Rimmington, both of whom have huge amounts of experience and made the process much easier.”
Asked whether he would recommend it to others, he said “College in the US has been just amazing and it is a joy to be part of – the best decision I could have made. The best bit is being part of a Division 1 swim team. Being a student athlete is something else, and nothing comes close to that in the UK system.
Ben finished by saying, “I would certainly recommend it to anyone, especially those who excel at sports. The higher costs shouldn’t necessarily put you off as big scholarships are available for academics and sport, and this has actually brought my fees down to the same level as UK tuition fees.”
This positive experience is echoed by other students who are studying abroad, including Elise van Heuvelen who left Bede’s in 2016 on a tennis scholarship to the University of Iowa. For Elise, the opportunity to travel throughout the US has been a big benefit but she has also enjoyed the different academic approach, “The US system allows you to explore degree options that you think you might like during your first year.” Another alumnus, Peter Malloy, who is studying at the University of Illinois echoed this adding, “The format in the US is different from the UK as you take around four different classes per term with exams at the end. I prefer that to having finals at the end of three years.”
Dino finished by saying, “Although many of our pupils focus on the US, other alumni are having a great experience at European universities which have been attractive due to the low fees and professional pathways offered. Equally, I am now working with a number of Lower Sixth pupils, helping them research universities globally, including Singapore.The opportunities for students today are so diverse and it’s incredibly exciting to be part of this journey.”