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Rubbing shoulders with world leaders: how UNSW attracts the region’s high achieving undergrads

Real-world opportunities and high academic standards are giving UNSW undergraduates the chance to be future leaders in their field.

It was not until Tanvir Uddin saw homeless children sitting in a schoolroom in north eastern Pakistan that the true importance of his studies hit home.

A Scientia Scholar at the University of New South Wales (UNSW) in Sydney, Australia, Bangladesh-born Tanvir achieved a 99.9 Australian Tertiary Admissions Rank (ATAR). He was drawn to the University because it enabled him to study multiple majors in economics, international development and law, with the aim of one day pursuing a career in international development.

He had just started his honours thesis on flooding when he was given the opportunity to observe aid distribution after the 2010 Pakistan floods with the NGO Muslim Aid Australia (MAA).

“The kids had no home and no possessions and yet they were going to school amid the tragedy and devastation. It was a very hopeful thing,” says Tanvir.

A community of brilliant minds
UNSW has the highest ATAR rating of any university in the state of New South Wales (NSW) and aims to attract the best and brightest students from Australia and around the world. Student demand for a place has grown continuously for the past five years and in 2012 UNSW received more first preferences than any other university from NSW applicants with ATARs in the top 500.

To attract undergraduate high achievers, the University offers a number of scholarships. Australian residents who achieve an ATAR of 99 or above may apply for UNSW high achiever scholarships, while Scientia scholarships recognise students who have received an ATAR of 99.90 or above, regardless of their residency.“We are the university that’s most in demand by Australian students and international students want to follow,” says Aleksandr Voninski, Executive Director, UNSW International.

“We are very proud of the fact that we have continuously improved our academic rankings.”

While at UNSW, these high fliers are encouraged to achieve a global focus, with a range of scholarships, programs, exchange opportunities and industry placements designed to mould them as future leaders.

Connecting future leaders with current leaders
For law/international studies student Hannah Glass, her UNSW United Nations society membership led to a trip to the APEC summit in Vladivostok, where she met world leaders and saw first hand the real world of international relations and diplomacy.

For UNSW international student Colin Cheng, who represented Singapore in sailing in the London Olympics, studying nanotechnology at UNSW meant flexibility and the ability to reschedule his classes and exams so he could compete internationally. As part of the Elite Athlete Support Program, Colin also benefited from study support while competing and training internationally.

For Tanvir, the primary benefit of studying at UNSW was the ‘open door’ policy of his professors and lecturers, who were glad to help him connect with industry contacts and further his career opportunities. One introduction has led to a chance to tour the Pacific Islands with the Asian Development Bank, where he one day hopes to work.

During his time at UNSW, Tanvir also got to rub shoulders with Sir Bob Geldoff and Archbishop Desmond Tutu at the One Young World Global Leaders Summit in London. He is set to finish his degree with first class honours and then plans to continue postgraduate study while working for a management consultancy, before pursuing a career in international development.

“Australia might seem far from the rest of the world, but UNSW makes it seem like you are connected internationally,” he says.

“You get to work with international leaders and researchers, there are exchange programs and study abroad opportunities that make it worthwhile for students to expand their horizons in study and work.”

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