Why I chose to study business analytics in the UK | Top Universities

Why I chose to study business analytics in the UK

By Craig OCallaghan

Updated February 7, 2024 Updated February 7, 2024

Sponsored by Durham University Business School 

With businesses large and small becoming increasingly insight-led, it’s no surprise that business analytics degrees are on the rise, offered by an increasing number of global business schools. 

The MSc Business Analytics at Durham University Business School combines experiential learning opportunities with international exposure and an employability-focused curriculum. To learn more about what the programme is like, we spoke to international student Saurabh Kulkarni. 

Tell us a bit about your journey towards deciding to study a postgraduate degree at Durham. 

I’d been working as a data analyst back in India. I knew what my career prospects were and that I’d be pursuing a business analytics course. It was just a case of deciding which university would be better suited in terms of the curriculum they offer and the overall university community.  

Obviously, that's where the QS rankings proved useful, as you can compare schools across the region and look at certain parameters such as employability, ratio of faculty to students and so on. Durham University Business School consistently stood out as superior to other schools in the UK. 

Was the UK always your preferred study destination? 

Yes, because the UK gives a very good platform for me to have opportunities anywhere else around the world as well. It's also a good country to live in for an international student, because of the climate, the people and the culture.  

What, in particular, stood out about Durham other than the rankings? 

As an international student, your life outside of your studies is really important to consider and that’s why the collegiate system at Durham is one of the most unique things it has to offer. I really didn't know what it meant before I applied to Durham, but then, as I read more about it, I knew how important it is.  

Now that I’m experiencing it first-hand, I can really see the difference it creates. The impact it has on your personality and the exposure it gives you to interact with different students from different disciplines is remarkable. 

Were there particular aspects of the business analytics programme you were really looking forward to? 

What really stood out for me was the balance in terms of the curriculum. My course is really balanced between technical skills and real-world business exposure, teaching you the technical skills and then also how it will actually apply in the real world. That is a particular aspect which I don't think most universities really focus on. I think this balance really helps us stand out as graduates when we enter the job market and go searching for an employer. 

How has the programme aligned with your expectations? 

A super-positive surprise is that I found the people to be super friendly. As an international student, you can have doubts over whether you’ll settle into a new country, but at Durham there’s such a big student community and everyone around the city is so friendly, welcoming and always ready to help. Also, the collegiate system and Durham University provide great support in terms of careers advice and mental health support. 

What have been some of the highlights of the programme so far? 

The facilities are really impressive and there’s also a great focus on employability. Every now and then we have sessions which help us to align our expectations based on what employers are looking for and the curriculum is really flexible to adjust to changes. 

We also have the international field trip on the programme. This year my class will be going to Silicon Valley for two weeks in June which is really exciting. A team at the school look after all the formalities in terms of visas and paperwork for us.  

Our trip this year is in association with the University of San Francisco and we’ll be getting to meet and work with different companies, gaining insight into how each company operates and giving us real-life exposure to problem situations faced by these businesses. 

That business insight can be really important in the future when we’re part of an organisation or trying to run a business of our own. Once the trip is over, we write a summary report and give a presentation on what we learned. 

This initiative provides a fantastic opportunity for us to gain exposure and experience a different country, a privilege not everyone can independently afford. You get to see how some of the world’s biggest companies are working with data analytics and business analytics, learning about how they function. 

What has the experience been like within your wider cohort on the programme? 

We have a cohort where there are people who are strictly from a business background who have become intrigued by the technical aspects of business analytics. And then there are people like me with the technical background who have been gripped by the business aspect. The course serves a very good balance and really gives you a solid platform from which to decide what you want to do. 

The course has plenty of group exercises where you get to collaborate in a group and then that's where you can interact with different types of people and get to learn from their respective backgrounds. That wider knowledge is then something you can call upon in your own work which hopefully makes you a better candidate for future employers. 

How would you advise applicants showcase their strengths in their business school application? 

I think what really worked well for me was the willingness to learn that I displayed in my personal statement. It's really important to have that learning mindset. If you say you are a student, then you have to be willing to learn, to unlearn and relearn.  

Secondly, I would say to keep an open mind because you are more often than not changing the country you live in and hoping to be around different people, exposing yourself to different cultures. Be open to new experiences. If you have this mindset, I think it will really come across in how you present yourself in an interview or when writing a statement of purpose for an application. 

What advice would you have for students concerned about the affordability of studying in the UK? 

There’s a clear difference in the cost of living depending on the university, particularly if you compare universities in London with those outside of London. I think that’s the first point students should keep in mind, because that adds up over time and you might not even notice it until your expenses are way over your budget. 

As well as location, I think it’s important to assess the scholarship opportunities which the university offers to the students, and specifically for international students, as they often have region-wide specific scholarship opportunities as well. For example, I was offered a scholarship from the business school which helped cover one-third of my total fees.  

Finally, if you don’t shy away from working hard then I think the part-time work opportunities which are available in the UK are worth exploring if you can add them into your routine. 

This article was originally published in February 2024 .

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