As the first cohort of #WeAreInternational Student Ambassadors end their term, we’ve sat down with them to reflect on their experiences. The #WeAreInternational Student Ambassador programme is UKCISA’s student network of global future leaders. We are proud to work with and learn from our Student Ambassadors to help deliver a vision for a world-class international student experience.
Adetoun Adebayo is a graduate of the University of Nottingham and Nottingham Law School. Not only has Adetoun served as a #WeAreInternational Student Ambassador, but she has also been a Welcome Mentor for University of Nottingham, a Student Advisory Committee Member for Student Minds, and a Welfare Officer for One Heritage, a society that aims to educate and facilitate discussions about issues of interest in the African and Caribbean community.
Her active participation in these committees and her dedication to helping international students has led to her recognition in The Future Leaders 2020/21 List of 150 of the UK’s Most Outstanding African and African Caribbean Students and New Graduates. Currently, she works as a Visa & Immigration Team Administrator for University of Nottingham.
Why did you decide to study in the UK?
I had been to the UK previously and had family in the country, so it wasn’t completely foreign to me. I wanted to come to a place where I could meet loads of different people, have fun, and study what I wanted to.
I studied Common Law at undergrad because I knew it was a degree that would lead to opportunities both in the UK and in Nigeria if I wanted to move back.
I did a Foundation year before my course, which was a helpful introduction to studying in the UK. Because it wasn’t a full-on degree, I had time to explore the country and to become familiar with Nottingham. We had a lot of support in the Foundation programme since it was entirely international students.
“I wanted to come to a place where I could meet loads of different people, have fun, and study what I wanted to.”
How does it feel to be on the other side of the international student experience as a Visa & Immigration Team Advisor?
Being an international student has definitely given me a helpful perspective in this role. I can relate to what’s going on and the pressure students face when it comes to immigration issues.
What has been your most rewarding experience as a #WeAreInternational Student Ambassador?
In April 2020, I spoke at the BUILA Regional Interest Group event. I went down to London by myself to be part of a panel, speaking to 44 university representatives about my experience as an international student.
Speaking to professionals can be hard, so I was proud of myself. After I spoke, the representatives asked me questions about how they could improve certain issues and how I felt about their specific university policies. It was profound to have these major institutions asking me for my personal insight. It opened my eyes to the fact that they’re really trying to improve things for us, even behind the scenes.
“It was profound to have these major institutions asking me for my personal insight.”
Let’s turn now to your feature in the 2020/21 Future Leaders List of 150 of the UK’s Most Outstanding African and African Caribbean Students and New Graduates. Can you tell me a bit about it and how it feels to have made this list?
It feels amazing. I’m planning to go out and buy myself a physical copy of the magazine to keep.
UKCISA played a major part in it. I didn’t think I’d done anything worthy of the title, but when I sat down and thought about it, I realised that I’ve done a lot of worthwhile work as a Student Ambassador. I’m not sure how many people applied, but only 150 made the list. UKCISA definitely played a role in giving me the confidence to push myself to be nominated.
“UKCISA definitely played a role in giving me the confidence to push myself to be nominated.”
Now that your term as ambassador is coming to an end, what’s next for you?
Well, my current job is temporary and soon I’ll apply for the Graduate Route visa.
I’m thinking about going into Immigration Law. I’ve gained a deep interest in it from my work as a Student Ambassador and as a Visa & Immigration Team Administrator.
The Graduate Route is great because it gives you the opportunity to explore different paths. I’m thinking of working as a paralegal for an immigration law firm to get more experience. This is something I couldn’t have done without the Graduate Route because it isn’t the type of job to be sponsored on a work visa. So, I’m excited to be on this new visa and use the first year gaining experience as a paralegal before moving on and getting into immigration law.
Find out more about the #WeAreInternational Student Ambassador programme.