Maftuna is from Andijan, a large industrial city on the eastern edge of Uzbekistan. At 18 she moved to Europe and acquired a degree in International Business and met someone special, prompting her move to Edinburgh. Being immensely invested in her education, she applied to a variety of universities. Due to the responsiveness and patience of Queen Margaret University’s (QMU) Admissions Team, in comparison to other universities, she commenced QMU’s MSc in International Management and Leadership programme. Prior to coming to QMU, Maftuna worked in marketing and business development.
Why did you choose to study at Queen Margaret University (QMU)?
Before being admitted to QMU, I had already applied to a variety of universities in Scotland. Ideally, I was looking for a programme that would complement and enhance my existing degree. I was delighted to find QMU’s MSc in International Management and Leadership course. However, the biggest drawing point for me was the support showed by the university’s Admissions Team. I did not find other universities showing the same responsiveness and patience. They also helped me with my visa application. The choice was clear to me because I felt welcome at QMU and I believed I would receive the right support here.
What interested you about your chosen course?
MSc International Management and Leadership offers 3 capstone modules to choose from, so you are not limited to a dissertation. I found the Business Incubation Project (BIP) route suitable for me because I am planning to run a food truck business after graduating. I was also interested in this course because it offered modules such as Accounting for Managers and Strategic Human Resource Management, and at the time, I was looking to gain more expertise in both of those areas.
What attracted you to study in Edinburgh?
I met someone while I was doing my undergraduate degree. Because he is from Edinburgh, I visited the city on many occasions and decided to move here with him. Edinburgh is a vibrant city with some of the best universities in the UK. I like that Edinburgh is small, friendly and very green.
Your chosen course
What have you most enjoyed about your course? What has been the highlight?
The answer for me is people. I had the pleasure of attending seminars of some of the most engaging lecturers. Some of them are great at encouraging and facilitating debate and discussion in the classroom. I am not the only student that enjoys them, a lot of my peers are equally invested in the conversations. We are usually very excited to come to class. During my time at the university I have made valuable friendships, based on mutual interests, respect, admiration and support.
Have you participated in a course activity you found especially interesting?
I particularly enjoyed the Capstone module sessions on Wednesdays with Mark and Richard. Preparing students to undertake their capstone modules being a primary objective of these seminars, they do so much more. They teach students to gain confidence in themselves, to be accountable, curious, reflective and critical. They encourage students to be open-minded and read more. Because of this, I find that I can have more meaningful conversations with my peers without unnecessary judgment.
How have your lecturers supported your learning?
Lecturers always made themselves available whenever I inquired whether it was via virtual meeting or tête-à-tête (face to face meeting). They made sure that everyone had a chance to make a contribution during classes if they wanted to. I still keep in touch with a lot of them. Some lecturers went above and beyond and even advised me on my career path outside of lecture hours. All of the module coordinators came with substantial experience and education in their relevant fields, which made them excellent conversationalists, ready to draw out a wild card to challenge your thoughts and opinions, to test your knowledge and to help you grow.
What have been some of your challenges with the course and university life? How have you overcome them?
Because I also worked part-time during my studies, I struggled to find time for everything. 24 hours in a day were not enough to fit in studies, work, friends and family, exercise and household duties. I noticed the pressure kicking in hard, especially closer to the deadlines. I found being organised and prioritising very helpful in dealing with pressure and stress. Also, by starting my assessment preparations early I avoided the difficulty of doing everything last minute. The COVID-19 pandemic had a profound impact on my mental health, which reflected on my studies and everyday life. By focusing on self-awareness I managed to build resilience so I was able to bounce back from negative setbacks in my life.
Do you have any advice for students who might be interested in applying for this course?
If you are thinking about applying for this course, you should know that you will be very welcome at QMU. I do not advise you to come here with a sole purpose of obtaining a degree. Use your time here to explore, learn and grow. If you are genuinely interested in the subject you are about to apply for, just like I was, you do not have anything to worry about. You will be just fine! This is because when you are truly invested in your education, you will always find time to put in the effort. Discipline yourself to get the most out of your studies, learn to appreciate the process and do not rush to the next stage. You only have a year and half at best in the academia and a lifetime outside in the real world.
The student experience
What QMU student services have you used to support you through your university journey and how have they helped you?
I found Effective Learning Service (ELS) useful in supplementing my studies. I reached out to them when I needed help with writing a report, formatting, referencing and doing a secondary research. The librarians are also very helpful and friendly.
What’s your ‘top tip’ for making the most of being a student?
Prioritise your studies, but if you have time, also look into getting involved with extracurricular activities and the Student’s Union. If you have an entrepreneurial mind, there is a Business Innovation Zone at QMU. They can support you with practical business advice and guidance from the on-site Business Gateway.
What has been the most valuable lesson that you’ve learned at university?
I have learnt the importance of critical reflection. I was always the type that takes a lot of notes. I prefer pen and paper to the electronic version. I end up with stacks of notebooks with my recordings and the pile keeps growing. Those are just words, if I do not reflect on them – they do not have any value. I have learnt to address them, synthesis them and draw conclusions. I have developed this skill during my time at QMU and I am grateful for this.
What are you plans after graduation? Tell us about your ambitions and where you see yourself in the future?
I am planning to open a food truck this summer with my partner and I am very excited about it. This project will be our second independent venture, but in itself, it is quite unique. We have a business online. My long-term goals are to get involved in export-import business operations.
"The biggest drawing point for me was the support showed by the university’s Admissions Team. I did not find other universities showing the same responsiveness and patience. They also helped me with my visa application."