International Human Resource Management PhD
Jaspreet never thought he would ever get the chance to study in the UK, coming from a small village in the Punjab. Since joining BCU, Jaspreet has taken any and every opportunity he can, and worked to tackle discrimination in the city, now focusing on the issue through his PhD.
"I’m originally from a small village in India, and I didn’t ever really think that I would study at university in the UK.
Before coming to BCU, I had very limited dreams, and I was having a really hard time suffering from bad mental health and severe depression. I knew that even if I made it to the UK, there would be linguistic and cultural barriers that I knew I would have to tackle.
I found out about Birmingham City University through relatives and decided to apply. I didn’t think I was going to get in but, to my surprise, I was accepted. When I arrived on campus for my first day, I was astonished that I had finally made it, but knew that the journey ahead was still going to be a difficult one.
When I first came to BCU, seeing the number of different students from all backgrounds really made me feel at home instantly. My visa arrived late, so I missed the scheduled welcome week and international week, however the lecturers all made sure that I was given that same warm welcome. One particular lecturer even took me under her wing, making sure I didn’t feel like I missed out at all. Even recently in the transition to studying at postgraduate level, my course leaders have really helped and nurtured a family bond with my class mates which I think is very rare to see in universities.
I’ve immersed myself in as much as I could at university. I was part of the Sikh Society, where we ran Langar on Campus each year; the Bhangra Society, where we came third in the national Capital Bhangra Competition; and I even played on the basketball team for a little while. I volunteered in Nepal through the International Travel Scholarship scheme the university runs, and ran loads of events across campus including the Diwali Festival and One World Festival. Thanks to the connections the university have, I was able to contribute to a debate in the House of Lords on increasing diversity in UK Parliament.
There were times where I was involved in so many activities that I wasn’t able to fully focus on my studies: one day I’d be in London, then travelling straight to Sheffield for something else the next day. My studies became secondary to everything else. Luckily, my lecturers were understanding as to why I was absent, and I had the support needed to overcome that and stop myself from falling behind. My lecturers dedicated time out of their own day to sit down with me, and anyone else who needed help, to make sure I was always on track with my studies.
With the help of my lecturers and the friends I made, I managed to juggle my involvements with my studies. I was the winner of two prizes at the University’s Extra Mile Awards, including the Vice Chancellors Award and BCUSU President’s Award, Society Leader of the Year being a member of BCU Sikh Society at Team BCU awards. I also won International Student of the Year at the faculty’s Deans’ Awards. I also had the opportunity to deliver a TEDx talk at Birmingham Hippodrome about why I love wearing my Dastaar and Kirpan in Birmingham. I was then awarded the Lord Mayor’s Award in 2018 in recognition of outstanding achievement and exceptional service to the City of Birmingham and its people.
On top of all of that, I was elected president of BCUSU; the first international and first Sikh student. There was a specific session during the first year of my course around leadership that got me involved in leadership challenges and tasks. It was this that triggered my journey to being voted president.
After I finished my undergraduate degree, I stayed at BCU to do my Master's in International Human Resource Management and now I am studying for a PhD here too. Going from a Master's to a PhD is a big jump. For me personally, being a very visible person of faith who wears all the articles of faith, I wanted to develop research into the issues which we may face at workplaces. My PhD research is around, ‘to what extent Sikhs experience hostility in the workplace in the UK’. I am discovering if this is the case or not and establishing the causes behind the effects of it and that means a lot to me.
BCU for me is like a second home, away from home, from a little village to BCU. It's been an amazing journey, I'm living all my dreams by being at BCU.
To me, ‘I am BCU’ means ‘I am transformed’. I think back to high school where I used to sit in a corner and cry because I was suffering from depression, to then being the president of the Students’ Union of 29,000 students from 100 different countries. I think it's just how I transformed from being nothing to being something. I’m not everything, but I’ve still got big dreams.
I was born in Punjab, but I was made in Birmingham!"