On Friday 3 December the CSC held a virtual Welcome meeting for new Commonwealth Scholars studying in the UK.

The Welcome Event was hosted by Richard Middleton, Chair of the CSC, and featured short talks by Regional Network Coordinators and CSC staff on how Scholars could make the most of their scholarship opportunity in 2021-22.

Greeting new Scholars

In his opening talk, Richard Middleton congratulated new Scholars and expressed his hope that their scholarship time would be successful and lead onto exciting professional opportunities afterwards. Highlighting some of the different professional fields and experiences which former Scholars had gone onto, Richard noted the invaluable contributions that Commonwealth Scholars make in the home countries and communities using their skills to engage with people and improve the lives of those around them.

Richard welcomed the other speakers and outlined the meeting programme before introducing three of the new Regional Network Coordinators for 2021-22, current Scholars Joana Kolo-Manma, Olamide Eso, and Tatu Emmaculate.

Introducing the Regional Networks

In their presentation, Joana, Olamide, and Tatu introduced the CSC’s Regional Networks as a way for Scholars studying at universities in the same UK region to connect through informal events, research seminars, and social media networking. They also shared tips on how Scholars could get involved in their network by joining their regional Facebook group and contacting the Regional Network Coordinator with ideas for events and activities.

Joana, Olamide, and Tatu encouraged Scholars to join in the welcome events currently taking place across the different networks and look out for further opportunities over the Christmas period and in the new year.

Scholars can find out more about the Regional Networks, including which network covers their university and how to join the regional Facebook groups by visiting the CSC’s Regional Networks page.

Sharing experiences: Scholars on their first term in the UK

Following the presentation by the Regional Network Coordinators, Scholars had the opportunity to discuss their experiences of studying in the UK so far during a breakout session. Facilitated by CSC staff, the sessions allowed Scholars to reflect on their teaching and studying and focused particularly on adapting to hybrid learning and settling into life at their universities.

Looking after health and wellbeing

The breakout session was followed by a presentation on health and wellbeing led by two of the CSC’s Programme Officers, Nadim Khan and Saima Lone. The presentation highlighted the different areas of support available to Scholars through their universities, from study skills workshops and advice on accessing research materials to help in building social connections with fellow students and getting support for mental health difficulties.

In their presentation, Nadim and Saima also talked about the support provided by the CSC, including wellbeing resources, weekly drop-in sessions, and workshops led by mental health experts. Finally, the presentation touched on advice for how to enjoy the UK winter and take time out from studying to have fun with friends and fellow Scholars.

After the presentation, the CSC Engagement Team shared some welcome video messages from last year’s Regional Network Coordinators who congratulated new Scholars and offered advice on taking part in activities.

The welcome video messages are available to watch again on the CSC’s YouTube channel.

Congratulating Scholars on their scholarship

The event concluded with closing words from Richard Middleton who re-emphasised his hope that Scholars would make the most of the scholarship opportunity and enjoy their time in the UK. Reflecting on his seven-year tenure as CSC Chair, Richard thanked Commonwealth Scholars for continuing to inspire, challenge, and bring enthusiasm to their scholarship experience, and wished Scholars every success in their ongoing development journey.

You can catch up on all the talks from the meeting on our YouTube channel.

Thank you to all the speakers and CSC staff who contributed to the Welcome meeting and to all the Scholars who attended the event and made it such a successful occasion.