soas, University of london

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Preferred Partner SOAS, University of London, is one of the Aziz Foundation's preferred partners. They share our core values and actively promote Widening Participation at the postgraduate level.

Preferred Partners in Focus: soas

SOAS has a diverse student body and is committed towards becoming sector leaders in eliminating its existing attainment gap.

Its degree awarding gap is much smaller than the sector average, and its intention is to further accelerate its reduction. It has set the ambitious target in its Access and Participation Plan (APP) of eliminating its degree awarding gap by 2025, which would make it one of the quickest to do so in the sector.

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Student Testimonials

Alisha Farouk

Alisha Farouk | Violence, Conflict and Development

How was your experience of studying at SOAS?

‘One of the main reasons I chose to pursue a master’s degree was because I felt as though I was only scratching the surface of academia and I was thirsty for something more and for something different. I chose SOAS because their curriculum and academic staff were known to be very diverse and the University did not disappoint. My field of study is heavily theoretical and the problem with theory is that it is highly subjective and most universities (at least in the UK) tend to follow a very Anglo-European blueprint. So it was extremely refreshing to look at my reading list and see names from all over the world. I would say that SOAS popped my ‘European education’ bubble and exposed me to a truly innovative, sophisticated and frankly, beautiful world of academia.’

What kind of support has been made available to you during your time at the University?

‘I can only comment on my experience academically because my time at SOAS coincided with the height of the COVID-19 pandemic where lockdowns became a norm for many of us. Because of this, the University handled coursework submissions graciously. They were very aware of the heightened mental health and wellbeing issues amongst students due to the pandemic and were very accommodating by putting our mental health first as priority.’

How has your time at the university helped develop you in your professional career?

‘I currently work for Unleashed International, a Diversity and Inclusion Consultancy and my role involves a lot of research. But fundamentally, it involves an understanding of the sensitive and intricate ways our identities intertwine with institutions whether they are corporate, charity, education or governmental. So my job is to look for ways to rewrite the rules and dismantle the structures that were created without ‘everyone’ in mind. Without my education at SOAS, which exposed me to the practice that ideas need to be seen and understood through multiple perspectives, I probably wouldn’t be where I am today working for the fastest-growing professional consultancy that doesn’t just see me for who I am – but also for who I can be.’

Have you been able to access any opportunities that have helped you prepare for a career in your chosen industry?

‘I would say the Aziz Foundation Scholarship is one of the biggest if not the biggest opportunity I have been able to access. Without the financial help from the Aziz Foundation, I would have not pursued my master’s degree. It wasn’t just the financial help, but it was being seen for my potential that pushed me. The validation I got from getting this scholarship gave me the confidence I needed to soar. All praise due to Allah. I also wanted to shout out the Aziz scholars that are constantly flooding my WhatsApp with amazing opportunities and illuminating discussion and if it wasn’t for one of the brothers who kindly revamped my CV, I probably wouldn’t have gotten my role now. Thank you all!’

Would you recommend postgraduate study at SOAS to other British Muslims?

‘Definitely. SOAS is an excellent institution for British Muslims to flourish academically. My course mates were all bright, interesting and open individuals from all walks of life. All of my professors and seminar leaders took the time to give me feedback on my work – especially my dissertation supervisor who listened intently to all my questions and concerns. ‘

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