Life as an international Biotechnology and Enterprise student

Junwei Ji is a graduate from the The University of Manchester’s MSc in Biotechnology and Enterprise. Junwei made the big decision to move away from home in China in the hope of expanding his knowledge base and furthering his career. Here, he discusses everything from how he found the master’s degree to life as an international student in Manchester…

I chose to study an MSc in Biotechnology and Enterprise in the first place because I was interested in transferable studies. I was looking for a course that could provide learning experience in both life sciences and business. There aren’t many universities that provide this kind of course, but The University of  Manchester is one of them and fortunately for me, I got an offer from this university to study here.

I obtained my undergraduate degree in China in Agricultural Biotechnology. Research in model plants can discover critical properties that can be potentially applied to crops and ultimately to agricultural production however too make this process practical, knowledge about the connection between scientific research and business is necessary. It was my hope that this master’s degree at Manchester would help me to obtain this knowledge base.

I have really enjoyed the course. There aren’t many lectures and instead we learn more practically through case studies and seminars. There is also some lab work involved within the course with a lab-based research project playing a big part of it. On the business side of things, there is a project where you must work in a team of 4-5 people to create a business plan.

Being an international student from China, I initially struggled with essays due to the language barrier and also because the critical thinking style was very different from what I had been taught in China. Thanks to lots and lots of practice (reading, writing, presentations etc) and to the helpful feedback from my lecturers and tutors, I managed to improve on this side of things quickly and saw an significant improvement in my marks.

Aside from the language barrier that I initially struggled with, I have loved living and studying in Manchester. The city is very international and it’s common to see people of all races, ethnicities, religions and cultures in and around the area. As an international student, you can rapidly settle down here, and you can easily find your community.

To finish off, I have a few words of advice to two different groups of people. Firstly to prospective biotechnology and enterprise students – Be prepared for the intensive training, it’s probably nothing like anything you have experienced before but you will benefit from that in the future if you commit to it. Before starting the course I expected to be trained in something new in order to understand better the subject area. It’s fair to say I have definitely had that experience and the course has certainly broadened my horizons. It can do this for you too.

Secondly to international students all over the world who may have concerns about studying in the UK during and after a pandemic – The UK is embracing the second wave of COVID-19, and is putting the necessary changes in place to combat it. Yes, there may be some disruption at first in terms of face to face learning but compared to other countries in the world, the UK is still a great place to continue your education.

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