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Why I chose to study a master’s degree in social work

Chinese international student Yuqi Liu shares his experience studying social work in Australia

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    Yuqi Liu

    Social Work master's student at the University of Queensland, Australia.
    April 22 2024
    Small group of young people sit in a close circle smiling / iStock


    From a young age, I had been driven by a desire to effect meaningful change within marginalised communities, so I moved to Australia to pursue a BA in psychology initially, and then chose to stay for my master’s degree in social work.

    The University of Queensland stood out to me for its prestigious academic environment. The hands-on approach to learning within the course, coupled with the opportunity to engage directly with diverse communities, was the highlight of my degrees.

    Another reasons that the university stood out to me was because of the UQU. The UQU is an independent support organisation closely associated with The University of Queensland, and its presence played a pivotal role in my decision to choose the university for my studies. Their dedication to student welfare stood out to me, beyond anything offered by other university student unions I had seen. Their services from providing free breakfast and dinner every weekday to organising over three engaging activities weekly during the semester played a unique role in my academic journey and personal growth. 

    My time at the university has equipped me with the necessary skills to pursue a career in social work. It also deepened my understanding of the societal impacts of mental health, housing and social justice issues.

    The university’s students’ union demonstrated its dedication to student welfare through its many services, including providing free breakfast and dinner every weekday and organising engaging activities every week during the semester.

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    Volunteering with the university gave me the opportunity to contribute meaningfully to the student community and earned me the “Volunteer of the Year” award in 2023, recognising my 165 hours of volunteer work that academic year.

    This support system and the community-centred initiatives significantly influenced my decision to continue my studies after my bachelor’s degree in psychology.

    During my master’s degree course, I participated in a research programme led by James Kirby (associate professor and clinical psychologist) that focused on the psychological impacts of inadequate housing on young adults. This allowed me to contribute to meaningful research while receiving mentorship from a respected figure in psychology.

    My association with Dr James Kirby during a summer research program while I was pursuing my bachelor’s degree at UQ, was a significant factor in solidifying my passion for social work. Collaborating on his work provided me with invaluable insights and further fuelled my dedication to pursue a career in this field.

    I then received summer and winter research scholarships, which gave me the chance to showcase my commitment to advancing in the field of social work.

    Looking to the future, I hope to contribute to a world where support systems are accessible to all, fostering a global community in which kindness transcends borders.

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