Crystal is a full-time student studying on our MSc Education programme, specialising in Research Design and Methodology. Prior to joining the department she studied a B.A. Psychology (Honours) at Pandit Deendayal Energy University, India.
What degree did you apply for and why was it important to you to study this?
I wanted to explore educational research in order to equip myself with advanced research tools to work on systemic inequities in the education system in India. This is a one of a its kind course in the world with a range of interesting electives to choose from.
What do you hope to go on to do once you’ve completed your postgraduate degree? What do you hope to achieve?
In the short term, I would like to work in education policy especially focusing on access and equal opportunities in the Education sector. However, in the longer term, I intend to do a DPhil in Education to further equip myself with advanced research tools and to then take back all the skills and knowledge that I have acquired from Oxford to my home country India and employ it there for the benefit of my community. I hope to achieve equitable educational opportunities for girls in developing countries like India.
What do you most value about the teaching at the department?
An Oxford education from the department is more than just coursework. Coming from an education system where the instructor is the sole speaker in a class, I found it highly engaging that the classes were led by all of us. The professors are facilitators who encourage us to think critically and question pre-existing ideas in education. The faculty has a great repertoire of research experience that its always great to pick their brains on relevant topics.
Why do you think it’s important to study education?
At this critical juncture in human history, the case for studying and understanding education has never been more apparent. In the aftermath of a debilitating pandemic with systemic inequalities, it is imperative to train students to become educators and to study education in order to tackle these issues. Education is at the heart of solving problems in our society and its ability to transform our societyis immense.
What’s the community (student & staff) like at the department?
They are highly supportive and responsive. You can send an email to any member of the department and can expect a prompt response. Moreover, there is a dedicated staff member for any issue that you might face whether its academic or otherwise. The student community in the department represents most countries in the world which makes it a highly dynamic and international community as a result of which I gained insights into the education system of different countries in the world. The students are also from varied backgrounds which made my learning experience very wholesome and culturally diverse.
What has your degree taught you most?
An Oxford education taught me how important it is to keep questioning and critically think about ideas. It taught me to not accept and judge anything by its face value but to rather deeply research and form my own stance.
How do you get involved in other research activities within the department and what are they?
As part of my course, we are supposed to work with a research lab on an ongoing project so that turned out to be a fruitful experience in learning more about research. Other than that, there are multiple projects on which you can work as a research assistant or a volunteer depending on your time availability.
What’s your favourite thing about studying at the department?
I think the best part about being a part of the department is the collaborative culture that it encourages. Everyone is so friendly and supportive that it really enables an environment where everyone learns and thrives together. The department serves as a multigenerational community of diverse students which makes the entire learning process very holistic and purposeful.
How has the department supported you through your study?
The department is committed to increasing diversity and create an inclusive learning environment. I was a course representative for my cohort and I suggested to the department if we could have weekly presentations on educational systems from around the world in the Hilary term. The department was more than happy to facilitate it and it proved out to be one of the highlights of our course. Furthermore, in the Trinity term we also organised an Industry expert’s session where we called professionals from around the world which was highly appreciated by our course director and the department.
Do you have a mentor in the department, and if so how has this helped you?
Dr. Ariel Lindorff was my dissertation supervisor and she has been absolutely incredible throughout the duration of the course. Her detailed feedback on my project really helped me to make it cohesive and interesting. I came in with a half-baked idea for my dissertation however, she helped me refine it and guided me every step of the way. She is very approachable and has a tremendous amount of experience.
What advice would you give to new postgraduate students on how they can get involved in the department community?
It’s very important to be on the lookout for opportunities and events at the department. The department is very active and organises a lot of events. No matter what your research interest is, you will be able to find at least one academic or event in the department to learn from. There are weekly Qual and Quant hub workshops which are very useful to know about world-class research being done by academics from Oxford and other institutions. Try to join these groups and attend these events as the conversations are always so engaging! One of the simplest ways to get involved is to just be in the department café, you can always find an interesting conversation going on at one or more tables!
What further opportunities have you gained so far through or as a result of your degree?
I am grateful to have done two internships with educational organisations during this course. I am also interning with a toy company this summer. With my research experience, I was able to secure multiple research positions both in India and the UK. The quantitative aspect of the course has helped me to even diversify my professional options in consulting and management related jobs.
Did you receive any financial help through the University and if so what was it?
The university awarded me an innovation fund for securing a summer internship through the career services for August 2022.