I have been involved in education studies since 1999. I initially spent seven years at Beijing Normal University where I gained a Bachelor’s degree in Educational Administration and a Master’s in Comparative Education. I started my doctoral study at the Graduate School of Education (GSoE), University of Bristol, in October 2006. As I was in the field of comparative education, it was particularly important for me to have a wider understanding on international development in education. While China, as a developing country, was still focusing more on learning from developed countries as its main aim of comparative studies, I paid more attention on developing countries themselves and this was also part of the research interests of the GSoE. Therefore, I chose to apply for PhD study at Bristol as it had a great reputation in education and also had the research centres I wanted to join.
Apart from the PhD supervision, GSoE also provided a number of courses, seminars and workshops as compulsory and optional parts of our study. The first year compulsory courses were important for me. It was especially important for international students to get some basic knowledge of the theoretical foundations and methodology for research.
On the other hand, the research centres are the families for every research student. I really enjoyed my study in the Centre for Globalisation, Education and Societies, led by Prof. Susan Robertson and Prof. Roger Dale. We had a reading group meeting every week sometimes followed by drinks. All of the papers were selected carefully by the centre leaders and printed out as a reader for us. I learned a lot from the reading group, not only to challenge myself with the very in-depth reading materials, but also to communicate and exchange ideas within an equal academic environment.
My PhD supervisor, professor Roger Dale, is a great man who gave me continuing support in many ways. His wisdom and humour brought me into new areas of education with confidence, particularly international development and educational aid. With his support and encouragement I presented my paper at five international conferences during my PhD study, from Asia and Europe to North America. These were very good opportunities for us to practice and present our research ideas.
After graduation in 2011 I quickly found a job at Liverpool Hope University. In five months I was promoted from a post-doctoral teaching fellow to a Lecturer in the Faculty of Education of the university. I still keep in touch with my supervisor and some colleagues at Bristol. In 2012 I had a great time at an international conference in Hong Kong with Prof. Dale and Prof. Robertson from Bristol. This year I will attend another conference in Oxford co-organised by my Bristol colleagues. Therefore, in some ways I feel I still have a connection with Bristol.
I believe the University of Bristol’s reputation has already given me a very positive basis for my future career. My practice, my fast academic progress, my whole experience in Bristol has influenced me continuously in my life, and perhaps will continue to do so in the rest of my life. I am currently writing and publishing papers based on my PhD thesis and my previous conference presentations. I still have a great enthusiasm for my research in this field so I will remain as an academic in this area.
I would say to students starting at Bristol, enjoy the life in Bristol, enjoy the communication with your classmates and colleagues, and enjoy the relationship with your tutor and supervisor. If you are an international student, try to listen, to see and to participate more widely; open your mind, open your heart, and you will open your future from here.