“Working on relevant projects within diverse teams is definitely one of the highlights of studying at UCT for me.”
“The common thread in my UCT curriculum and the profile I was building was centred on project management and leadership. I chose several elective courses around innovation and entrepreneurship and I spent my fifth semester doing an exchange programme with the Technical University of Munich (TUM), specifically the TUM School of Management.
With my interest in project management, I thought it was very useful that the UCT curriculum consists of a lot of team-based projects – which is a big plus of the study programme if you ask me. People sometimes underestimate the skills and experience you will gain from working together in teams, and especially how much these skills are valued on the work floor.
For me, these group projects were a great way to gain experience in overseeing large projects and work on my project management skills. For example, you get the opportunity to fulfil the role of project leader, which I did during the fourth semester.
Improving the well-being of Londoners
The theme of this semester was ‘wicked problems’, so we needed to work on a complex, multifaceted problem that can’t be fixed with one simple, final solution. My team and I focused on improving the well-being of the inhabitants of London. Studies have shown that the average well-being of citizens in such highly urbanised areas is lower than that of citizens in rural areas.
This is definitely a wicked problem since there are so many facets to it. For example, this decrease in well-being might have to do with lack of green space or public open space, noise, crowding and overpopulation, crime and feelings of unsafety, or increased inequality, to name some of the factors we looked at.
Eventually, you need to decide what to focus on as a team – because, of course, you can’t tackle everything all at once. In smaller subgroups, we worked on implementing green space, improving the cycling infrastructure, more inclusivity at the workplace, and on something that’s called gentrification. This is the phenomenon of the young, upper-middle-class taking over the neighbourhoods of working-class citizens due to increasing housing prices.
It was quite interesting to see how all these aspects were related to each other, which also shows the complexity of the problem. For example, implementing green spaces somewhere might also contribute to the gentrification problem, because building a park in a neighbourhood will increase the attractiveness of that neighbourhood and will thus increase the housing prices.
Working on such relevant projects within diverse teams is definitely one of the highlights of studying at UCT for me. It’s a great learning experience, also because you get a lot of freedom and responsibility in handling these projects – and actually throughout the whole programme. This is something that should fit you, by the way. If you don’t take responsibility and think thoroughly about what you want and need to learn, you might not get everything out of your study programme. But as long as you think things through and have a clear goal for yourself, UCT can be the right choice!”