The Faculty of Life Sciences at the University of Bradford has sent 60 students on Erasmus+ work placements over the past 20 years. Pharmacy and Chemistry are professionally accredited degree programmes and students are restricted on the modules they can select throughout the degree. This requirement for relevant modules can prevent students from accessing opportunities to study or work abroad. Therefore, Bradford’s departmental coordinators have used their network of contacts to implement Erasmus+ exchange agreements that enable Bradford students complete a research-intensive work placement abroad.
The first agreement for student research mobility was established for Pharmacy students to go to the Universidad de Salamanca. Further agreements have been established with Karlsruhe Institute of Technology, University of Eastern Finland, Universita degli Studi di Torino, and institutions in Belgium, France, Malta and Spain. It is the ambition of the Opportunities Abroad team and the Faculty of Life Sciences is to increase the number and widen the participation of students going abroad on short term mobilities.
Through a range of workshops and short lecture presentations aimed at Pharmacy and Chemistry students, there has been an increase in students going abroad on research placements.
In the Summer of 2018, six Pharmacy students completed summer research placements at Institutions in Finland, Italy, Spain and Malta. These placements were either in the host universities’ research lab or working on the wards of the universities’ hospital. In Milan, Bradford students researched antibiotic development alongside PhD students. In Malta two students observed pharmacists on ward visits and followed up patient care from admission to discharge. This summer, four Pharmacy students will complete hospital and research placements in Italy, Malta and Belgium.
Reflecting on her experience in Malta, Natalie Janjo said that ‘it was an amazing experience and personally I would recommend every university student to undergo a study abroad programme related to their degree.’ Qian Hi Ng, who worked in Kuopio, Finland for two months was able to use the research that she had collected on organic synthesis in a chemistry laboratory in her final year dissertation. Qian said that she has benefitted from her Erasmus+ exchange: ‘By learning to live in a country where English was rarely used in daily communication, I was able to put my Finnish language skills into practice.’
The Opportunities Abroad team have been working to increase the numbers of mobile students over the past two years and have discovered that the Bradford student body is more engaged with short international programmes or work placements abroad than the traditional semester or academic year of study. In order to meet the needs of our students, we have expanded our portfolio of short mobility programmes. The success of Pharmacy and Chemistry students working abroad in leading European institutions demonstrates it is possible to widen access to traditionally underrepresented degree programmes.
‘I intend to work in hospital pharmacy, so it has been beneficial for me to have additional experience within this field in Malta’, Natalie Janjo studying MPharm.
‘I am putting into practice the skills that I have learned during the last three years at Bradford thanks to my experience at Karlsruhe Institute of Technology’, Herman Claassen studying MChem.
The University of Bradford will continue to break down mobility barriers so that its undergraduate and postgraduate students have an international experience that develops their confidence and strengthens graduate outcomes.
Charlotte Fairclough, International Opportunities Assistant, University of Bradford