Chevening Scholar 2023: Sibongiseni's Salford Story

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Sibongiseni arrived in Salford to study MA Public Relations and Digital Communications as part of the 2022/23 Chevening Scholarship cohort. During his time at Salford, Sibongiseni has developed a global perspective on communications, interned at Salford City Council and immersed himself in everything Salford has to offer. 

Read on to discover Sibongiseni’s story. 

Deciding to study at Salford

“As soon as I read the course description, I knew MA Public Relations and Digital Communications was the right course for me. It was clear from the outset the course was forward-thinking and designed to prepare the communication professionals of the future. 

I was excited to have the opportunity to learn at the state-of-art MediaCity campus, surrounded by media titans, such as the BBC and ITV. The lecturers’ backgrounds in the industry were also of massive interest for me, I felt they had lots of experience that I could learn from.  

As a lifelong Manchester United supporter, I was thrilled to have the opportunity to live and study so close to Old Trafford, the Theatre of Dreams. As I began to research the city further, I was attracted to how diverse it was with over 200 languages spoken and a large student population. I also liked how well connected the city is internationally and to the rest of the UK.” 

Supported from the start

“When I arrived in a new country so far away from home, it felt quite daunting initially however the support I received from Salford was outstanding from day one.  

Whenever I needed help there was always someone to turn to. During my first week on campus, I found myself lost as I tried to find my way back to my accommodation. I went to speak to an askUS representative in University House who spent time drawing me a ‘map’ of how to get back to my accommodation, which route to take and which bus to get on. She made me feel reassured and supported which I was truly grateful for. 

I also attended workshops organised by the Library which aim to help international students understand more about the UK education system with each session covering a different topic. I found the sessions around assessments and how to approach them to be particularly helpful. I would encourage any international student to make use of these free workshops.  

There are many societies and events organised by the University to help you meet new connections and make your time at Salford even more fulfilling. I regularly attended the University’s Sports Centre and even took part in a Santa dash fundraising run just before Christmas.  

I was also nominated for International Student of the Year at the annual Create Student Awards which is run by the School of Arts, Media and Creative Technology. 

On World Africa Day, the Students’ Union and International Office held an event to celebrate the day and the wonderful continent of Africa. It was a fantastic and colourful event which brought together many of Salford’s African students and emphasised the University’s strong international student community.” 

Academic experience

“MA Public Relations and Digital Communications has been designed with an excellent balance between theory and practice. In one session we would look at theories related to PR and in the next, we would walk around MediaCity in groups shooting content for social media. One of my favourite tasks was creating a PR campaign for a real client and then presenting it back to one of their representatives along with our lecturers.  

Throughout the course, we heard from industry experts, some of whom were Salford alumni and had completed our course years earlier. Guest speakers included people from the BBC, The Lowry Theatre and Transport for Greater Manchester. We were also able to tour the BBC offices which was a really interesting experience. 

Completing this course has helped me towards my goal of developing the digital communications industry back in Eswatini. Before arriving in Salford, I mainly understood communications in the context of Eswatini and perhaps Africa - now I have a global perspective. Throughout the course, I have developed skills in crisis communication, social media management and content creation and I am now able to strategically apply these skills.” 

Industry opportunities

“As part of one of my second trimester modules, I was given the opportunity to complete a two-week placement with Salford City Council in their communications team. I was involved in all aspects of their communications strategy from creating social media posts to writing blogs and helping them update their website. It was an incredible opportunity for me to apply what I had learnt and make some important connections in the communications sector.  

I was part of the 2022/23 Chevening Scholarship cohort, which is the UK Governments’ international scholarship programme for developing future leaders. I was selected as one of the Social Media Ambassadors for this year’s cohort and in this role, I have been able to further apply the skills I have learnt during my course to create content documenting my time at Salford.” 

My advice

“To all future international students, my advice is to come with an open heart and mind, be ready to learn, unlearn and explore. Take any chances and apply for all opportunities that align with your goals. Most importantly take care of yourself, find your community here and don’t forget to keep in touch with loved ones back home.”