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A day in the life of: Irfan Khawaja

Have you ever wondered what it might be like to be a course leader? We’ve had the chance to get to know Irfan Khawaja, or Iffy for short, the course leader for BSc Physical Education and School Sport.

“I never dreamt of working in a university really, however my journey initially began coaching a range of different sports whilst studying at university and the dream was to continue coaching and live happily ever after… but then I got bored. I found my way into the teaching profession through my sports coaching and taught both in primary and secondary schools, specialising in Physical Education. I eventually took on the role as Head of Department, and also taught internationally in South Africa. Following the completion of my Master’s degree and moving on to finalising my PhD, opportunities to teach in higher education seemed to be a lot more appealing! Cue my role at BCU.”

Iffy states that his typical working day will look a little something like this:

    • 6am – wake up!
    • 7am – leave the house, avoid the traffic.
    • 8am/8.30am – arrive at work.
    • 9am – 4pm – The working day will be taken up with teaching classes, various meetings and PHD study.
    • As an added extra, I also take part in Salsa, Badminton, Running and Swimming as part of the university.

When asked what he finds challenging about working as a course leader, he replies “It’s so different to anywhere I’ve worked before and every day brings different challenges, some greater than others but I find that careful time management and planning helps to alleviate most of these challenges. One of the biggest challenges I’m currently faced with is trying to timetable numerous groups into one sports hall (as many of my students will know!). I work closely with my team and Head of Department, Natalie Walker – who is great, to try and explore all potential options. “

Though, he definitely has some highlights too. “Through the help of my colleagues, BCU has helped develop myself professionally with the recent successful completion of my PGCERT and FHEA status. The university have also supported me with my PhD studies, which I complete part time. I’m not far away from completing my PHD now, but BCU has helped with the support from colleagues guiding me and bouncing ideas together. I work within an absolutely brilliant department, and within a wonderful faculty. There are so many friendly faces who genuinely care, and support you.  My students are also fantastic, we have some amazing people here who genuinely want to learn. Some need more support than others, but each of them come with their passion and desire to gain a degree. I feel blessed to be a part of their learning journey.”

“There’s two main accomplishments I’m proud of during my time at BCU. One is writing an entire degree course from scratch and sailing through the validation process! Particularly as this is my first university role, I really didn’t know what to expect. Secondly, running the Birmingham Half Marathon. My colleagues inspired me to do this and helped with the training, planning and support on the day.”

When asked about his life Iffy tells us that two of his biggest inspirations are his grandparents and parents, and the children he was fortunate enough to teach in South Africa, a memory he looks back on fondly. Finally, when asked if he hadn’t got into teaching or academia, what would he be doing? “Drumming – probably still writing music and performing as part of my band”


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