Tag: student profile

Introducing the new Hedda students!

In this post, we introduce you some of the new Hedda master students at the University of Oslo. Welcome to Oslo! 

The start of the new semester has brought us as well a new beginning in the Hedda program. As an international Master’s program, the origin of the new student cohort is as varied as Higher Education systems around the world, being the new group an excellent example of how the field of Higher Education is diverse and complex, and on how the different contexts of each country interacts with their development. We have students from Africa, Asia, Europe and America, what makes us very proud, reason why we decided to ask some of them to tell us a little bit more about their motivations, their lives and, also, their first impressions of the life is Oslo.


Hedda master student Nayer

We started with Nayer Shahedifar. She’s from Iran, the cradle of the Persian Empire and one of the biggest countries in Middle East. She has been living in Oslo already for three years. “I’m not a fan of the weather –she argues- but I really like that here, in Norway, rules are followed and are explicit, nothing is hidden behind curtains”, she added. She admires the vision Norway has on education and how that is reflected on the opportunities the country offers in that matter and also on how they support their citizens in failure scenarios. “The concept of poverty is different here”, she says. Regarding her motivations for entering the Master’s program in Higher Education, her background as a literature teacher, both English and French, and as a Journalist, has a lot to do, but her real motives comes from her time at university in Iran. “I was part of a talent program in which they allow certain students to take two degrees at the same time. Only one out of ten succeed. That can’t be right. How can that kind of policies help the country and the students explode their potential? I was the only one who succeeded”, she told us. She would like to go back and help Iran in their path towards development, but the when is not clear, and the where is not clear either. When ask about her expectations on the degree, she explained that she looks forward to obtain a better understanding of the education system as a whole and to gain the ability to detect problems and deliver solutions regarding this matter.

Hedda master student Celio

Hedda master student Celio

Célio Mindo, from Mozambique, was our next interviewed. He arrived one month ago, more or less, and his background is very different from Nayers’. He is a Bachelor in Finances and has work as an assistant manager for ECOBOM, a water company back in his country. About his motivations to enter the Master’s program in Higher Education, he is very clear. “I looking for a different learning environment, a different society from which I can learn. Besides, I intend to mix my academic background and experience with education, because that way I can help Mozambique become a better country in my own way”, he declared. He seeks to contribute to create a better educational system form Mozambique with new perspectives, and he knows that studying in Norway is a challenge, but an even bigger one because “I’m not in my field”, he argued, “but if I can manage, everything is possible”, he added. He expects the program to help him learn new technics, to gain new experiences and to access to more information. “I expect to learn how to apply the new concepts, to that way face the reality of my own country from there, with new basic and complex tools with the challenge of applying them”, he said. Regarding his new life in the city of Oslo, he has a very positive opinion. “Besides the weather, it is very nice. People is kind and helpful, it is a good surprise for me, I didn’t really knew what to expect”, he said. The city itself has also been a surprise for him. “It is an interesting city, lot to see and to explore, I expect to see more. The best of it is how it is divided in different atmospheres. You have fun, calm, everything, like a lot of cities in mixed into one.


Hedda master student Andrés

Andrés Araos, from Chile, was our third interviewed student.

Student Spotlight: Sheena Miller

Sheena Miller

Sheena Miller is a second year HEEM student from the United States. She completed her BA at  New York University, concentrating in Gender Studies, German Language and Marketing. After graduating she worked within sales & marketing analysis in NYC and Melbourne, and also spent two years teaching English in Bungotakada, Japan.

Why did you apply for Erasmus Mundus HEEM?
It seemed like the most adventurous and engaging way to explore the realm of higher education and all of those nitty-gritty things which impact and/or are impacted by it. There are numerous master’s programmes in higher education, but the promise of being able to study with such diverse scholars, at three different universities, in three countries made this programme particularly irresistible. 

What has been the highlight of the Master’s experience for you?
Since we are a tiny group this year, we’ve received heaps of individual attention and feedback, which of course has been invaluable. Our classes and discussions are often held in a casual manner, over lunch or coffee. Such an approach makes the intimidating material we’re learning very accessible and occasionally, dare I say, pleasant. 

The most exciting academic moments I’ve had were hearing Ulrich Teichler and Sheila Slaughter speak at separate lectures. I can’t tell you how many hours I had spent reading and rereading their texts, doubting I had really understood the major points. So, it was rewarding to actually sit in an audience, make sense of their arguments, and eventually build up the chutzpah to ask them questions. In those seminars all of the struggles I had trying to grasp abstract concepts suddenly seemed worth the while.  But to be honest, the ultimate highlight has been learning that Sheila Slaughter (who I see as the Beyoncé of higher education) wears the same shoes I do!

Hedda students: FACE 2 FACE with Lineo, Agnes, and Ntimi

In this second episode we introduce three students, Lineo Kolosoa (Lesotho), Agnes Lutomiah (Kenya) and Ntimi Mtawa (Tanzania).  These students are enrolled in the Higher Education Master in Africa (HEMA) programme, financed by the Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation (Norad) and managed by  the Norwegian Centre for International Cooperation in Education (SIU). The HEMA programme is a collaborative programme involving the University of the Western Cape, University of Oslo, and the Centre for Higher Education Transformation (CHET). The main objective of the project is to contribute to the strengthening of higher education in Africa through building capacity with respect to expertise on African higher education. The students share their decisions why they decided to study in the Higher Education programme and some of their experiences living in Norway.

If you would like more information regarding the HEMA programme, please visit the CHET webpage: http://chet.org.za/programmes/hema/

Student Spotlight: Zechia Walters Chiafie

Zechia Walters Chiafie was born in 1984 in Cameroon. He holds  a secondary school teacher diploma from Higher Teachers Training College (ENS) Annexe Bamili, Cameroon (2003-2006) and a Bachelor degree in Geography from the University of Yaoundé (2003-2007).  He taught Geography and History for three years (2006-2009) and held the post of Vice Principal.  He is currently a 2nd year M. Phil student the  University of Oslo.

Why did you apply for the Hedda Master’s programme?

There is no doubt that higher education has enormous social, economic and private benefits, and so needs special attention. Nations that designed and invested in well-structured higher education systems earlier have leapfrogged significantly and are well advanced. Higher education institutions are the main fabrics of the contemporary societies and there are very essential contemporary scientific and analytical discourses about fate of higher education institutions in socio-economic development that need to be explored. Proper higher education systems can guarantee nation’s longtime survival or sustainability. Much therefore, still lies within the spheres of higher education that needs to be harnessed for sustainable economic development.

Since higher education institutions in Cameroon do not offer training in this field, I decided to apply for it at the University of Oslo. Secondly, I applied for this program because its learning outcomes reflect the gaps in Third World higher education systems including Cameroonian universities and the general higher education system.

What has been the highlight of the Master’s experience?

This program unveils many things in higher education that I have never known before. I have learned how to critically analyze issues and draw conclusions especially with this program’s well-fitted and supportive staff, available teaching-learning aids, and the flexibility of the program. My knowledge of research methods has also been broadened.

Student Spotlight: Vaiva Mazulyte

Vaiva Mazulyte was born in 1985 in Lithuania, in the town called Kaunas. She describes herself as a musician studying higher education. Since six years old her life was basically concentrated on piano playing. But as time passed she realized she wanted to learn something more and to know the world better. So after completing a master degree in Art of Performance (piano) at the Lithuanian Academy of Music and Theater she started studying at the University of Oslo, where she is currently enrolled in Hedda´s Master Programme in Higher Education.

Why did you apply for the Hedda Master’s programme?

After completing my master studies in Lithuania I was looking for a new experience. I had an idea to go to Oslo and during the search on the internet my eyes were drawn to this master  programme that was in a field I was interested in, because of participating in students’ representative activity back in my country. I didn’t know much about it and didn’t know what to expect, but I just tried my luck, filled in my application, and… here I am!

What has been the highlight of the Master’s experience?

The highlight so far was passing the first oral exam! Seriously speaking, I am impressed by the academic-level around me at the University of Oslo.  Especially by the teachers we have, who are the best researchers in the field of higher education.  They also have very good intentions to help us achieve the best results.

Student Spotlight: Onex David Opati

Onex David Opati

Photo: Shane Colvin

Onex David Opati is a Kenyan citizen. He studied his bachelor’s degree (in education) at Makerere University in Uganda where he graduated with a first class honors degree in 2009. During his studies at Makerere University, he taught English Language and Literature in two secondary schools in Kampala-Makerere Highway College and St. Lucia Hill School.  He is currently a first year Hedda master degree student at the University of Oslo. Whilst studying, Onex is also the technical production assistant for the Hedda- International Higher Education Podcast Series.

If you would like to find out more about Onex and his experiences whilst studying at the University of Oslo,  please visit his personal blog, “Pursuit of Happiness”.

Why did you apply for the Hedda Master’s programme?

I applied for this programme because I believe higher education has significant economic and social benefits not just for the individual recipients of tertiary education but also for the societies in which those educated individuals live and work. This therefore means that strong institutions of higher education are needed for long-term, broad-based development. Without improved human capital, a country will inevitably fall behind and experience intellectual and economic marginalization and isolation. As my contribution towards national development, I intend to become professionally involved in higher education in order to help achieve sustainable development. Studying this programme will, I suppose, equip me with the requisite knowledge to achieve this. That’s why.

What has been the highlight of the Master’s experience?

Well, first and foremost, the staff is very supportive; the coordinator is just a phone call away! Secondly, I have also learned that I have to develop a good study habit in order to make the most out of the course. Personal commitment to studies is given precedence. Last but not least, the university is endowed with abundant resources that offer a rich learning environment.

Student Spotlight: Fabiana

Fabiana Barros is a first year HEEM student from Brazil. She holds a Bachelor’s degree in Computer Science from the Federal University of Pelotas, Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil. During her undergraduate years she was involved in the International Office at her university introducing her to the internationalisation ofFabiana higher education. Before joining HEEM she was involved in several international cooperation projects in the field of higher education management targeted at training Latin American university managers and administrators. Fabiana was a trainee with the European Commission – CORDIS (Community Research & Development Information Service ) and she also worked at the University of Alicante, Spain in the International Project Management Office.

Why did you apply for Erasmus Mundus HEEM?

I had the necessity to complement the practical knowledge I had gained with a sound and specific post-graduate programme in higher education that could allow me to get theoretically acquainted with the diverse topics related to this field and eventually find my own area of interest.

What has been the highlight of the Master’s experience for you?

The whole idea and structure of the master’s programme has many peculiarities which make it a very unique academic program and personal experience to its students. In my opinion the highlight is the exchange of experiences within our international group of students and the academic staff members and visiting fellows in each of the countries we study.

What challenges have you experienced during the Master’s journey?
Personally at this initial stage one of the main challenges is to think and write as an academic and not anymore as a student. Another issue is to find a specific research topic for the thesis in such a diverse and rich field as Higher Education studies. My current idea is to work on the topic of higher education policy linked to national innovation systems in Brazil.

What are your future aspirations after completing the Master’s programme?

I want to go back to Brazil and hope to get the opportunity to give my contribution to the development of the field of higher education which is currently very dynamic. Hopefully I will work for a governmental research centre or university that is active on the international level.

What do you enjoy about living/studying in Oslo, Finland, and Portugal?

So far I have lived in the 2 Nordic countries of the network. It has been a great experience! Even though Norway and Finland are so close on the map it was very interesting to see how each of the countries created specific and different development strategies that led to the current high level of economic development and how higher education institutions play an important role in both.

Student Spotlight: Sibeso

Sibeso Likando is a second year HEDDA Master’s degree student originally from Zambia. After completing her Secondary Teachers Diploma in 1997, she went on to earn a Bachelor’s degree of Education in Mathematics and Science at the University of Zambia. She was teaching mathematics at Charles LwangaSibeso Likando.gif Teachers College – until she started the program in Oslo. She intends to write her Master’s thesis on “The Role of the University in Economic Development” with a case study of the University of Zambia.

Why did you apply for the Hedda Master’s programme?
I applied for the HEDDA Master’s programme to advance myself academically and professionally. Specifically, I wanted to acquire skills to enable me to contribute meaningfully to the socio-economic development of Zambia through my active participation in matters especially involving education in general and higher education in particular.

What has been the highlight of the Master’s experience?
The multicultural environment, the rich programme content and the immaculate administration of the programme to mention a few. The programme has exposed me to memorable, cultures and places.

What challenges have you experienced during the Master’s journey?
First, coping with the weather has been my biggest challenge. I never imagined living in a place where I am forced to wear 3 pairs of socks and 5 T-shirts and a very heavy coat on top or else I would freeze to death! For a Zambian girl like me, the winter weather is sometimes a bit too harsh, the snow in particular. The melting of the snow makes the place so slippery that in order to survive falling, you need to develop a strange kind of walking. If you walk anyhow, you risk breaking your legs. I had to learn to walk very carefully and majestically in order to save my legs.

Second, I have been left with no option but to learn Norwegian. Almost everyone I meet speaks to me in Norwegian and I got tired of saying ‘could you say that in English please’.

What do you enjoy about living in Oslo?
The peace! You can walk outside as early as 01am and no one will harass you. Unbelievable!   Second, despite Norwegians being quiet people, they are sweet. They have respect for humanity and are very easy to get along with. They are blessed people.

Student Spotlight: Katrine

Katrine Elida Aaland is a second year HEEM Master’s degree student. Before she started studying at the University of Oslo (UiO), Katrine earned a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology at Katrine Elida AalandGriffith University, Australia. In addition, she has a Bachelor’s degree in Nursing from Norway and has studied anthropology at UiO. Before joining HEEM she worked with higher education as a student representative on a national level, in addition to being a political advisor for a rector at a private university college. Katrine is planning to write her thesis on quality assurance and student representatives.

Why did you apply for Erasmus Mundus HEEM programme or Hedda Master’s programme?
As a student representative I was involved with and got to learn about many different issues facing higher education in Norway and Europe. I attended many seminars abroad and at home, and was fortunate to be involved with hands-on work with system change, quality assurance, access and recognition. I was also a member of a commission writing a white paper for the government together with Professor Peter Maassen, and he introduced me to the HEEM programme. I applied, the rest is history.

What has been the highlight of the Master’s experience for you?

Meeting people with diverse backgrounds from different parts of the world is an obvious highlight for me. It is an endless source of learning and growing as an individual.

What challenges have you experienced during the Master’s journey?
One big challenge for me has been meeting new faculty every semester and having few
lectures/seminars.  It is also a challenge that everyone in our class are from different traditions when it comes to how we discuss and communicate with our professors, in addition to our obvious language challenges.

As a HEEM student you study and live in different countries…what country have you enjoyed the most and why?
My most enjoyable stay abroad this past year was without a doubt Tokyo, Japan where
I got to spend my summer semester. Everything was new and different, food was incredible and Japanese people are wonderful. It was really refreshing being around people who know how to get on and off a train in an orderly manner.

Student Spotlight: Felipe Polina

IMG_0032.jpgFelipe Polina is a second year HEEM Master’s degree student. In addition to his Master’s degree studies, he travels to Shanghai often to maintain a trading firm that he owns with a friend. Prior to joining HEEM he worked for the Chinese Ministry of Economy and taught English classes, in Italy he worked for a family owned winery selling their high-end wine and olive oil, and finally in Mexico he worked for Procter & Gamble. Felipe holds a Master’s in European Business Administration and Business Law from Lunds Universitet in Sweden and a B.A. in International Business from the Instituto Tecnológico de Estudios Superiores de Monterrey (ITESM) in Mexico.

Why did you apply for Erasmus Mundus HEEM Master’s programme?

I am really interested on linking my previous research in Stem Cell Patents and National Innovation Systems with the Higher Education arena.The topic of my thesis is Human Stem Cell Research and the links between National Higher Education & innovation Systems. It will be a policy analysis.

What has been the highlight of the Master’s experience for you?

So far to realise about the complexity of higher education and to gain a deeper knowledge of all the actors that play an important role in it.

What challenges have you experienced during the Master’s journey?

To be able to deal with the very different styles of education in Norway, Finland and Portugal while moving around the world.

What are your future aspirations after completing the Master’s programme?

I would definitely consider pursuing an academic position or a PhD, however I must likely will go back to China (where I was living before joining the HEEM programme).

What have you enjoyed most about living/studying in Oslo, Finland, and Portugal?

Overall the fun, excitement and uncertainty of moving around the world. Besides moving between Oslo, Tampere and Aveiro I have the need to travel quite a bit between Europe and Asia so it is also challenging for me to cope with both my current academic commitments with the programme, my professional and personal affairs which force me to be a very mobile person.