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Why I chose to study at a UK university’s branch campus

Sri Lankan student Shamra Rifai chose to study at the University of Nottingham’s Malaysia campus for the range of courses, the UK university credentials and the affordable fees

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Shamra Rifai

Creative writing graduate from University of Nottingham Malaysia
August 6 2021
Kuala Lumpur skyline

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I attended the University of Nottingham Malaysia (UNM), which is one of the three campuses for the University of Nottingham. The other branches are in China and the UK.

I have a very introverted personality, so the thought of leaving my home in Sri Lanka to study in another country was immensely daunting, although exciting.

When I came to UNM, I was 18, pursuing an undergraduate degree in creative writing. I chose to study in Malaysia was because I had previously been there on a family trip and the tuition fees were much more affordable compared with studying in the Western countries.

I chose UNM because it was at the time the only university offering creative writing as its own degree. One friend of mine, Samawiyah, told me that she had similar reasons for selecting UNM as she studied English with creative writing.

Another friend, Namita, who is from Bhutan, selected it was because it was an affordable degree that had British credentials.

She also liked the freedom to choose the different modules offered for her degree, English language and literature. She took this opportunity to study the social psychology and conceptual historical issues in psychology modules that were optional modules for English language and literature students.


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One of the biggest benefits to studying in UNM was meeting all the students who came from all over the world.

This helped to shape me as a more understanding individual and to make me more aware of world issues and other cultures. This global presence was a reason why my friend Nate (from Jordan) chose UNM – he felt that it was a good place for him to grow as a person and to experience other cultures. Additionally, it was an international university recognised by his country’s Ministry of Education.

The teaching environment at UNM was high quality, and the classes were both challenging and interesting, allowing me the freedom to explore my writing style while also nurturing my practical writing skills.

My lecturers challenged me and my peers to try things outside our comfort zone, and this led me to finding passions that I had never thought of pursuing before. I discovered commentary and podcasting and joined the university’s podcast, UNMC Diaries, as a co-host.

UNM offered exchange semesters to the campuses in the UK and China. My friend Amaka, who came to UNM from the UK campus for a year’s exchange, found the campuses comparable and enjoyed her time here.

Overall, I enjoyed my time at UNM greatly and decided to stay on and study for an MA in education with TESOL while also interning at the communications department. Thus, I have experienced UNM as a student, an alumnus and also gained some work experience.

This article was written in collaboration with:

  • Samawiyah Ulde from India, English with creative writing
  • Namita Suberi from Bhutan, English language and literature
  • Nate Ahmad from Jordan, psychology and cognitive neuroscience
  • Amaka Delphine from the UK, pharmacy

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