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Brunel affiliation with Ahlia University opens the door for PhD studies and career progression

Esra AlDhaen

Brunel is well known for its academic quality and experience and the unique affiliation with Ahlia University for the PhD (without residence) was the ‘dream come true’. I was able to proceed with my PhD while building a career profile - the quality supervision and resources really enabled me to make the PhD journey remarkable and smooth.

Esra, Alumni, Research

Assistant Professor and Executive Director of Quality Assurance and Accreditation (PFHEA), Ahlia University

PhD without residence - Ahlia - 2017

From Bahrain

Tell us about your educational and/or career journey since you graduated from Brunel?

I graduated from my postgraduate degree in 2007 and started working in a Higher Education Institute - Ahlia University - located in the Kingdom of Bahrain. The University is affiliated with Brunel University London to offer a PhD (without residence) in the field of Management Studies. I was always eager to conduct research and peruse my PhD. I joined the PhD (without residence) with Brunel in 2013 and graduated in 2017 and become an Assistant Professor in the area of strategic decision making and quality as well as handling quality assurance and accreditation at university level. My passion for research and loyalty to Brunel enabled me to seek approval for establishing PhD (W.R) alumni club that was formed in 2017 - the main aim of the club is to maintain a relationship with our graduates and support collaborative research across graduates, PhD researchers and supervisors.

What does a typical day at work involve for you?

I am an Assistant Professor at Ahlia University and also the Executive Director for Quality Assurance and Accreditation. Apart from teaching and supervising students, I handle quality and accreditation operations at university level by setting standards, evaluating strategic measures and reporting high level reports that leads to senior management decision making.

What’s been the highlight of your career journey so far?

After obtaining my PhD, the qualification supported my career progression. I am an external quality and accreditation reviewer for various countries including Saudi Arabia, Oman and the Kingdom of Bahrain which is supporting my progression at my professional level. In addition, I have obtained Principle Fellowship by the Higher Education Academy (HEA) as a reflection of obtaining and understanding the UK Teaching and Learning Framework. My role enables the university to obtain the highest judgement in all its quality assurance reviews conducted by various external authorities. The research skills obtained throughout my PhD allowed me to excel in my career and publish various papers in the area of strategic decision making and quality.

How would you say your Brunel experience has helped you to get where you are today?

I believe that Brunel supported me with various areas, but the most is having an international affiliation with Ahlia University. This was the “door to success” and proceeding with a PhD while working with the same quality experience made my dream come true. I was able to proceed with my PhD while building a career profile - the quality supervision and resources really enabled me to make the PhD journey remarkable and smooth.

Why did you choose to study at Brunel and why would you recommend Brunel to others?

Brunel is well known for its academic quality and experience and the unique affiliation with Ahlia University for the PhD (without residence) was the ‘dream come true’. The fact I was so attached to my career, hoping to do my research alongside this whilst obtaining a UK degree delivered by a highly qualified faculty and supervisors was all I wanted. I do recommend all PhD researchers to enjoy the PhD journey with their supervisors as it is a life time experience. For those willing to join, do not wait, it is an amazing experience to take the ladder to career success.

What is your best memory of studying here?

When studying the PhD (without residence), I had access to the same facilities to visit the Brunel campus and enjoy the exceptional learning environment. Visiting Brunel and meeting my supervisor was one of the most remarkable days of my life. Walking down the building with my other PhD researchers sharing knowledge and supporting each in the common student areas made us overcome any challenges.

If you could give one piece of advice to current Brunel students, what would that be?

Enjoy every moment of your education journey - Brunel is one of the best universities in terms of the learning environment, so make the most of it.

What would be your top tip or key advice for new graduates as they begin their career journey after leaving Brunel?

Reach out to the alumni network and make use of the Brunel support and benefits. For the PhD graduates, maintain relationships with the other alumni to conduct collaborative research and also exchange knowledge and experience. The alumni network will support your lifelong learning with unlimited access to information, so keep it up and maintain your knowledge.

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