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Thursday 4 June 2015

International tips: An interview with Mohamed Elazabi

Around 20 per cent of all students in UK higher education come from other countries, with many of those choosing to study at Southampton Solent University.

As part of our occasional blog series around students with English as a second language, we spoke to Mohamed Elazabi about his educational journey to Southampton Solent University.


The first time I met Mohamed was on a routine call he was making around 800 telephone outlets throughout the University as part of his role as Solent’s VOIP wizard-in-residence. VOIP phones (voice over internet protocol) had recently been installed throughout the University and my voicemail light was flashing an alarming red.

Other infrequent visits to the Learning Skills office followed as his third year assignments began to pile up and the A grades started to build. Now, with his final project completed – engineering a new telephone infrastructure to accommodate voice-over IP (VOIP) – Mohamed is contemplating his next move.

The project has been nominated for a Technology Innovation Award 2015, sponsored by WRTI (Wessex Round Table of Inventors) and he is hoping that the knowledge he has gained from this, as well as his diverse educational experiences and high achieving grades, will stand him in good stead for a future career in technology related industry.

Mohamed finished his second year with first class results, and is expecting to graduate this year with first class honours overall.

A UK resident for 10 years and father of one, Mohamed grew up in Libya. Whilst education in Libya was free, access to technology was limited and schools and universities relied upon the printed word to educate their students.

At 18 years old, Mohamed found the experience of working at Tripoli airport offered new horizons. The travel bug bit and he flew on his own to England, arriving at Southampton with “3 per cent English language”. Seven weeks of intensive English language study later and he was ready to engage with serious education!

Mohamed has watched Solent University grow from its position as Southampton Institute, through to its current standing as Southampton Solent University. As a Southampton resident he recalls few students entering the institute prior to 2005, but witnessed numbers doubling soon after as the Institute became a university.

This in itself encouraged him to enrol, but the core drivers “to have a better future and make my family proud” are what motivate him through thick and thin. And there has been a lot of “thick and thin”.

mohamed

For Mohamed, the most challenging aspect of pursuing an education in a country which he describes as having “the best education system in the world” is financial. In 2010, despite widespread student protests, English universities were able to charge students up to £9,000 a year annual tuition costs under the Conservative/Lib Dem coalition government.

For Mohamed this has meant a slow and laborious journey to the enviable position he is now in as a prospective first class honours graduate in network security management and he urges prospective students to seriously consider the financial commitment before embarking on higher education.

See further details regarding Solent University’s tuition fees for EU and international students.

The second challenge for Mohamed was adapting to Solent’s portfolio system of assignments (as opposed to an examinations system which he was used to in Libya and at Westminster University where he first started his studies).

Also, he found Solent’s Turnitin system took a while to get used to, and the process of demonstrating an acquired knowledge through reports and essays whilst avoiding plagiarism was certainly demanding, especially when English is his second language.

No multiple choice style examinations here! Learning to write reports, structure assignments and proof-read are all skills which were acquired painstakingly over time. As Mohamed says, “No pain, no gain!” However, the process of overcoming these hurdles has been empowering and he believes these skills will be indispensable to him as he moves in to the world of work.

So, from an early fascination with fixing and deconstructing his dad’s Sony Vaio as a child back in Libya, Mohamed is now looking ahead to his first position, post degree, as technical assistant at the Met Office, implementing security networks. We wish him well on this fresh journey of discovery!

For more information please visit the succeed@Solent homepage.

You can also contact us on:
Twitter: @SucceedAtSolent,
Facebook: www.facebook.com/succeedatsolent,
or by email: succeed@solent.ac.uk.